Our people expect and deserve a safe workplace.
black man in full PPE

Worker Health and Safety

Keeping Employees as Safe and Healthy as Possible

We approach our workers’ safety and work environment as if they were family – because they are. Each year, our company’s significant safety accomplishments are recognized by industry associations. And each year, we set the bar even higher, because without healthy, safe employees our company cannot fulfill our obligations to keep people fed.

Worker Health and Safety Highlights and Achievements

The health and safety of our Smithfield employees has always been paramount in our ability to feed people across the United States and around the world, to support the farmers and partners in the agricultural supply chain and to be a successful business.

We pivoted quickly in the early months of 2020 to address the new challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our response focused on two things: keeping our employees healthy and safe while fulfilling our obligation as an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce to secure and maintain the food supply.

$800 Million in COVID-19 Response Measures

We invested more than $800 million in COVID-19 response measures at our facilities and employee benefits in 2020 to keep workers safe and healthy while maintaining the food supply chain.

Worker Safety Award of Honor

Fifteen Smithfield locations received the Worker Safety Award of Honor from the North America Meat Institute (NAMI), the highest award bestowed by the organization. An additional 21 facilities received Worker Safety Awards for outstanding achievements in workplace safety, both achievements surpassing 2019 recognition.

Achievement of Health and Safety Targets

We achieved our health and safety targets, as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Total Incident Frequency Rate (TIFR); Days Away, Restricted, Transferred (DART) Rate; and Days Away From Work Injury and Illness (DAFWII) Rate for 2020 were all on par with or below 2019.

Our Goals And Targets

Our Worker Health and Safety Goal: Maintain low employee injury rates.
Continue to reduce the TIFR and maintain levels below the relevant industry average in the United States.
on par with 2019
Achieve annual DART and DAFWII results better than relevant industry averages in the United States.
reduced DART compared to 2019 and DAFWII on par with 2019
Maintain safety engagement levels at 40% or more of employees globally.
47% engagement
Ensure all safety leadership complete at least 10 hours of health- and safety-focused training globally.
Unachievable due to COVID-19 restrictions
Meet or beat location-specific injury rate targets in Poland and Romania (production).
Achieved; Romania production exceeded targets
Meet or beat location-specific injury rate targets in Poland and Romania (operations and farms)
Did Not Achieve
Poland operations and Romania farms did not meet or exceed targets
Our Goal: Keep our employees healthy and safe.
Increase safety engagement level to 50% or more of employees globally by 2025.
Obtain International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 45001 Health and Safety Certification at all facilities globally by 2025.
Continue to reduce health and safety rates and levels below the relevant industry averages globally.
Score at least 90% on Smithfield Injury Prevention (SIPS) audits at all locations globally by 2025.
"I have continued to stand tall, get up every morning and go to my farm to raise our pigs to feed our country. Thank you for reminding us that we are American Heroes."
- Andrea B., Herdsperson, Missouri

Our Approach to Worker Health and Safety

Our global health and safety program, SIPS, is designed to drive health and safety improvements across our company with the new goal of achieving companywide ISO 45001 certification by 2025. We implemented SIPS in 2018 and completed audits of all Smithfield facilities in 2019 to ensure the effective and consistent operation of our safety management system. In 2021, we aim to fine-tune facility operations to increase the system’s effectiveness, continue to embed a safety culture and continue to drive down safety incident rates. 

The success of our health and safety programs is underpinned by our safety engagement culture. We measure safety engagement based on employees who voluntarily go above and beyond job-related safety requirements and training, for example, by serving on a health and safety team or completing training that is not part of normal job responsibility, such as First Aid/CPR training. In 2020, we engaged more than 47% of employees in safety activities, surpassing our target of 40%, and were on par with 2019 in the United States and Poland and ahead in Romania where employee engagement in safety training topped 53%. We are confident we can continuously improve employee safety engagement to reach our new 2025 target of 50% engagement across all our operations.

The success of our health and safety programs is underpinned by our safety engagement culture.

We also provide comprehensive employee training through Smithfield University’s safety-related online courses. In 2020, more than 7,800 safety-training modules were completed by U.S. employees on worker safety-related topics, fewer than in 2019 — a consequence, we believe, of our collective focus on pandemic safety.

In 2020, OSHA metrics were on par or down compared to 2019. In addition, OSHA inspections doubled compared to 2019. While citations were down year over year, penalties increased by 50%.

U.S. Safety Data 2020

Processing Facilities 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
TIFR 3.75 3.64 3.21 3.00 2.90
DART Rate 2.57 2.50 2.30 2.40 1.90
DAFWII Rate 0.77 0.62 0.53 0.50 0.50
Hog Farms 2016      2017       2018       2019       2020
TIFR 4.20 3.80 3.30 4.56 4.40
DART Rate 3.10 3.00 2.30 3.13 2.80
DAFWII Rate 1.00 0.60 0.50 0.71 0.85
Number of OSHA Inspections              66 54 56 55 105
Number of OSHA Citations 29 12 15 18 12
OSHA Penalties $82,594 $30,158 $67,644 $67,137 $93,386

Hear from Our Industry Experts

“In May, we visited Smithfield’s Tar Heel facility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was with us. The CDC was training their staff as part of a nationwide effort. We had our team learning at the same time. With Smithfield, we were all basically teaching each other. We were impressed with Smithfield’s efforts."
  - Pierre Lauffer, Industrial Hygiene Supervisor of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

"Over the past nine months, we have seen steady engagement and consistent messaging led by Smithfield Food’s human resources and management teams to encourage positive health and safety behaviors across all levels of employment. This type of behavioral change is hard to maintain without fostering a work environment with clear and consistent messaging and easy access to health and safety information."
- Chantal Haughn, Director of Account Management at Matrix Medical Network

"LULAC’s focus has always been the worker. In this regard, Smithfield’s leadership during COVID-19 set the pace for meat-processing facilities. When we asked, they opened their doors to us. I personally went to plants in North Carolina and Kentucky, where we were relieved to find that they were testing every worker for COVID-19 on-site on demand and installing barriers to separate workers and providing PPE and other safety measures. Smithfield is demonstrating that keeping their workforce safe is feasible, practical and the right thing to do."
- Domingo Garcia, President of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Our COVID-19 Response

Our Workforce on the Front Lines

Smithfield responded swiftly, comprehensively and responsibly to COVID-19, an unprecedented global crisis. We spared no expense to protect our employees and maintain the food supply chain. Our more than $800 million COVID-19 response ensured that not one of our 42,000 U.S. employees was laid off while we temporarily shuttered six facilities in the spring, including thousands of production workers who continued to be paid during that time.

Our health and safety policies and procedures, recently enhanced and codified in our SIPS, provided the structure to quickly adapt to COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Our hard-wired discipline for compliance kept us on track in a rapidly shifting and evolving regulatory environment. And our essential employees, through recognition of the importance of their roles as critical workforce, demonstrated sheer determination and adherence to our company’s values and guiding principles and reported to the front lines every day. They are heroes.

PHASE I: Our Early Response
The COVID-19 outbreak was declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

In the United States, a national emergency was declared on March 13. The federal government issued its Coronavirus Guidance for America on March 16, executing responsibilities under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort and ensure the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Critical and essential functions, such as health care, food production, law enforcement, public works and defense systems, were identified in the guidance.

The federal guidance was clear: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as health care services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”

On March 19, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), underscored the importance of listing critical and essential designations and responsibilities: “Many of the men and women who work across our nation’s critical infrastructure industries are hard at work keeping the lights on, water flowing from the tap, groceries on the shelves, among other countless essential services. As the nation’s risk advisor, this list is meant to provide additional guidance to state and local partners, as well as industry, building on the President’s statement that critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility to keep normal operations. We’re providing recommendations for these partners as they carry out their mission to keep their communities safe, healthy and resilient. And on behalf of CISA, we thank the brave men and women who continue these essential jobs in challenging times.”

On Thursday, March 20, Smithfield learned of the first case of COVID-19 among our employees.

By then, our COVID-19 response was well underway. We had established detailed processes and protocols to meet or exceed the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including travel and on-site visitor restrictions, contact tracing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting at all facilities and an abundance of hand-sanitizer stations. And we were diligently seeking out viable suppliers for materials to use in implementing sweeping safety measures.

We also adjusted our attendance policies and leave benefits to help ensure sick workers did not enter our plants and to support employees in a rapidly changing and uncertain time. These included full pay for employees who missed work due to COVID-19, paid leave for employees at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and the removal of all barriers in our health plan to accessing medical care for COVID-19, including the elimination of co-pays.

We communicated details about these policies, alongwith information about COVID-19 symptoms and how to prevent the spread of the virus in multiple languages our employees could understand, on our dedicated COVID-19 intranet page and abundant signage throughout our facilities. Employees who did not have access to email also received electronic messages througha special mobile texting app. These communications were reiterated, improved and expanded throughout the year. We explicitly and repeatedly instructed employees not to report to work if they were sick or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and emphasized that they would not be penalized for missing work.

In the last week of March, we announced that our Cumming, Georgia, facility would close. Two weeks later, we closed our Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility. Within another week, our facilities in Cudahy, Wisconsin; Martin City, Missouri; St. Charles, Illinois; and Monmouth, Illinois, were also closed. All employees at these facilities continued to be paid.

While we were shuttering facilities, we were continuing to expand safety measures. Because physical distancing is not possible in all areas of a meat-processing facility, we purchased plexiglass and other physical barriers to protect our workers. We purchased and installed thermal temperature scanners to screen every person before they entered our facilities. In the first week of April, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend face coverings be worn at workplaces. Smithfield immediately prioritized the procurement of millions of masks. We transformed our production areas, break rooms and common areas. Air purification measures were deployed, and we expeditiously installed extensive engineering controls as supplies arrived.

During this period, we also announced that our hourly production and distribution employees would receive Responsibility Bonuses as a recognition of their dedication to continue to produce food during the pandemic. We initially spent $20 million on the bonus but later increased the initiative by $100 million, for a total of $120 million. Employees who missed work due to COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis continued to be eligible for the bonus, along with their regular pay.

At the end of April, President Trump issued an executive order that reaffirmed our obligation to continue providing food for the American people. The CDC and OSHA issued joint Interim Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers. We invited health and safety leaders and the CDC to see our facilities firsthand, where the vast majority of the recommended measures had already been implemented. The remaining recommendations were swiftly implemented. Since then, we have operated in full compliance with this guidance, along with applicable state and local guidance, which, in many instances, exceeds the CDC/OSHA recommendations.

In early May, operations resumed at our Cudahy, Martin City, Monmouth, St. Charles and Sioux Falls facilities in full compliance with CDC/OSHA guidance. Smithfield rolled out free, on-site, on-demand testing and launched a compliance program that monitored and tracked COVID-19 safety measures at all Smithfield facilities in the United States to ensure the timely and effective implementation of our health and safety protocols. This process was continually improved and adjusted as health experts learned more about the virus and issued new guidance.

PHASE II: Implementing New Health and Safety Measures

Throughout the pandemic, we continued on-site COVID-19 testing. We hired health care professionals to administer the tests on-site, assist with ongoing health screenings and support employees through return-to-work assessments. We also partnered with local and state health departments to help ensure COVID-19 cases among our employees were completely and accurately reflected at all levels of reporting. This collaborative approach ensured that the data was correctly and transparently disclosed. COVID-19 data — including active case count — is also available to our employees.

Facility Enhancements for Workforce Health and Safety

Our Actions   Carla's Workday
  • Mandates for face masks when entering work sites
  • Thermal scans and health screenings for all individuals
 7:00a.m.  Carla checks her text messages for any new safetyrelated updates on her way to her shift at the Tar Heel, North Carolina, facility. Before entering the facility, she makes sure her mask is secure and has her temperature checked.
  • Distribution of prevention guidelines and benefits information in five languages
  • Marked-out passageways to ensure proper physical distancing
  • Free, on-site COVID-19 testing, medical support for employees and return-to-work protocols
  • Hand-sanitizing stations throughout facilities
 7:15 a.m.  As Carla walks to the employee changing rooms to suit up for work, she passes hand-sanitizer stations and the free on-site testing center. Following the designated pathways marked in the hallways to ensure physical distancing, she scans the informational posters — looking for new updates in her native language, Spanish. Among the English, French, Burmese and Vietnamese language posters, she finds a new update — reminder instructions: “How to Protect Yourself From COVID-19.”
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution to all employees and mandates at workstations
7:30 a.m. Before she arrives to her workstation, Carla suits up, putting on additional PPE covering her head, face, hands and body. Carla’s full PPE includes rubber boots, an apron, gloves, earplugs, a face mask, a face shield, a hair/beard net and a hard hat with a face shield.
  • Plexiglass installation at workstations
8:00 a.m. Carla finds her place on the facility floor between her two colleagues, Scott and Amir. Her colleagues are separated by plexiglass dividers helping to keep them safe while they work together.
  • New structural enhancements for physical distancing
12:00 p.m.  As part of the physical distancing campaign, Carla and her colleagues social distance over lunch in the new cafeteria space set up outdoors.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols
4:00 p.m. On her way out of the facility to head home, Carla waves to her friend Susan as she heads in for her shift. Susan is part of the team assigned to manage facility cleaning. The facility cleaning teams clean on regular, timed schedules, sanitizing the facility to meet top of the hygienic and sanitary environments maintained in normal conditions for food safety and quality purposes.

PHASE III: Administering the Vaccine and Long-Term Worker Care

As 2020 came to a close, two COVID-19 vaccines were granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — a bright spot amid the persisting pandemic. We immediately began putting procedures in place to offer vaccines to our essential workers on-site and free of charge as soon as they were available, following state-by-state protocols and guidelines. We deployed more than 3,000 medical providers to our facilities; communicated frequently with employees about the safety, efficacy and availability of vaccines; and ensured distribution availability as quickly as practicable. Providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine was another critical measure in Smithfield’s response to the pandemic.

Broadly, the pandemic prompted a review of the way we look at worker health and safety beyond the immediate crisis. We are partnering with health care professionals to think holistically about employee health to determine the ways in which we can enhance our workplace programs with long-term worker care in mind.

Additionally, we have advocated at the federal level for the establishment of an Inter-Agency Commission for the Continuity of America’s Food Supply. This critical commission should be comprised of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA), the CDC, OSHA, the White House, state governments and industry participants. The formation of a bipartisan congressional coalition to examine potential threats to our nation’s food supply and stop the politicization of food is also central to this requested effort.

Recognizing Our Safety Heroes

Each year, our company’s significant safety accomplishments are recognized by industry associations.

The NAMI recognized 36 of our locations with Worker Safety Awards. Fifteen of our locations received the Worker Safety Award of Honor, the highest award bestowed by the organization. The award recognizes facilities’ safety performance and the implementation of various key components of an effective safety and health program.

In addition, 21 facilities received Worker Safety Awards for outstanding achievements in workplace safety.

Worker Safety Award of Honor:
  • Bolingbrook, Illinois
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Junction City, Kansas
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Kinston, North Carolina
  • Milan, Missouri
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Orange City, Iowa
  • Peru, Indiana
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Sioux Center, Iowa
  • Smithfield Hog Production, Rocky Mountain Region
  • Smithfield Premium Genetics
  • St. Charles, Illinois
  • Wilson, North Carolina

Health and Safety Awards

Our Health and Safety Awards and Workers’ Compensation Awards annually recognize facility and individual accomplishments in safety excellence.

Worker Safety Excellence Award
Recognizes a facility for the highest level of safety performance
  • Greenfield, Indiana
Worker Safety Excellence Circle
Recognizes facilities that excelled in safety performance
  • Arnold, Pennsylvania
  • Bolingbrook, Illinois
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Clinton, North Carolina
  • Cudahy, Wisconsin
  • Cumming, Georgia
  • Denison, Iowa
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Edwardsville, Kansas
  • Godwin, North Carolina
  • Greenfield, Indiana
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Milan, Missouri
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Orange City, Iowa
  • Peru, Indiana
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Smithfield Premium Genetics
  • Sioux Center, Iowa
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Sioux City, Iowa (Curly’s)
  • Smithfield, Virginia
  • Tarheel Distribution Center, North Carolina
  • Toano, Virginia
  • Wilson, North Carolina
2020 Safety Professional of the Year
For outstanding achievement and commitment to improve worker safety within our facilities and communities
Eric Senn (Co-Winner)
Plant Safety Manager, Junction City, Kansas
Patrick Anderson (Co-Winner)
Plant Safety Manager, Monmouth, Illinois

2020 Innovation Award Winner
For an innovative concept that provides a solid impact on reducing worker injuries
Smithfield Hog Production, Central Region
Adapting the power take-off (PTO) driveshaft guard to enhance safety during operation
Milan, Missouri
Creating a workspace divider that provided worker protection during COVID-19 while meeting egress regulatory requirements

Workers Compensation Claims Management Awards

Claims Professional of the Year Award
Recognizes the unequaled commitment and measurable impact of an individual
Lucretia Spearman
Clinton, North Carolina
Bringing passion to her role, commitment to results and continuous improvement in a positive impact

Organizational Excellence Award
Recognizes a facility for ongoing excellence and sustained positive results
Tar Heel, North Carolina
Delivering sustained results with cost per employee claims down 31% over the prior year and a 100% timely return to work

Workers’ Compensation Innovation Award
Recognizes creativity and innovation, resulting in financial savings or process improvement
Smithfield, Virginia
New on-site occupational medical clinic that benefits employees, is closer to the production floor and is easier to access

Voices of Our Essential Workforce

Food is an essential part of our lives, and Smithfield employees have been on the front lines working to keep families fed. As COVID-19 took hold of our lives, stories about our company and industry grossly mischaracterized our response to the pandemic. Some of the stories pitted our company against our employees. There was no such division. In fact, thousands of Smithfield employees joined our reply to congressional leaders to clarify the facts of our response. Many more sent notes of thanks directly to our leadership.

“Thank you for all you are to all the many of us; thank you for all you do for us; thank you for the great leadership, for the great enthusiasm, for communicating so often so direct; and thank you for leading us so relentlessly in this fight. We will come through with our heads held high and prouder than ever for what we have done, for how we have done it, for how we have fought to get it done.”
—Alfredo F., Research and Development Manager, Iowa

“I am sitting in the hospital as I send this email, after my second round of testing. Our company, my supervisors, the human resource department and fellow staff members have been extremely supportive in this. I was not forced to work sick; I was not forced to put myself at risk. I am being paid to get better, to be safe and protected to make sure I can work again. I am a high-risk employee due to underlying health issues, and I have continued to stand tall, get up every morning and go to my farm to raise our pigs to feed our country. Thank you for reminding us that we are American Heroes.”
—Andrea B., Herdsperson, Missouri

"I have been employed here at Smithfield for over seven years; I am a 60-year-old, 17-year Marine veteran. I have never been associated with a company that cared as much as Smithfield. During this pandemic, this company really stepped up, above and beyond what they needed to. Smithfield is a family. It is a good company. It is My Company.”
—Giulio P., Maintenance Lead, Nebraska

Worker Health and Safety Policy Statement

Smithfield recognizes our workers as our greatest asset, and we firmly believe the health and safety of every individual working or visiting one of our locations is our responsibility. View our full Health and Safety Policy.
"I have been employed here at Smithfield for over seven years; I am a 60-year-old, 17-year Marine veteran. I have never been associated with a company that cared as much as Smithfield. During this pandemic, this company really stepped up, above and beyond what they needed to. Smithfield is a family. It is a good company. It is My Company.”
- Giulio P., Maintenance Lead, Nebraska

Worker Health and Safety Spotlights

The health and safety of our Smithfield employees has always been paramount in our ability to feed people across the United States and around the world, to support the farmers and partners in the agricultural supply chain, and to be a successful business.

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Worker Health and Safety

Healthy and Safety Awards

Our Health and Safety Awards and Workers’ Compensation Awards annually recognize facility and individual accomplishments in safety excellence.

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Worker Health and Safety

Our International COVID Response

Smithfield implemented strict, comprehensive safety plans and measures to protect our employees' health and safety and maintain food supply in Poland and Romania.

Our 2020 Sustainability Report outlines our efforts to make a lasting impact in our process and policies. It is a wide reaching view of how we want to hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Download the report