Employees at Taylor Farms express work hazard concerns after workers test positive
NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE): After reporting positive cases, employees at Taylor Farms shared pictures with ABC6 news of working conditions, showing workers in close proximity and many without masks.
Taylor Farms, in North Kingstown, produces fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, including to-go meals.
Israel Chavez’s father-in-law works in the assembly line packaging products.
“They’re not obeying the 6ft rule and they are not wearing masks as you can see,” Chavez said. “They are packaging salads, and fruits, for people to eat. That’s my concern.”
His father-in-law is 62 years old with diabetes and began having COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive Friday after he says other employees also tested positive.
“I think they need to be responsible for their employees if they don’t have the gear, then don’t put everyone in danger,” Chavez says.
Taylor Farms did not return our calls, but we did get a copy of the notice sent to employees which said, “We received confirmation of COVID-19 positive associates.”
Another notice was sent to employees stating new restrictions, starting Saturday, April 11th.
The notice from Taylor Farms said they were stating a screening process that includes a security guard asking a series of questions and also taking the temperature of each worker.
Anyone passing the screening were to receive a face mask for their shift. Chavez, however, says it’s a little too late.
“Now they’re doing it but how long did it take? People already are infected and they weren’t screening or providing masks.”
In a statement, a spokesperson from Taylor Farms told ABC6 news:
Taylor Farms is focused and committed to the health and well-being of our team members. On March 15th, the company initiated significant enhancements to our operating protocols to mitigate the COVID-19 risk to our team. We implemented extended paid sick leave so team members would stay home if they thought they were ill. We educated all employees on the importance of vigilance, working in smaller groups, social separation and personal and job site sanitation. We added sanitation personnel to continuously clean common areas in all our plants. On March 24th, Taylor Farms announced the additional requirements of taking employee temperatures prior to entering our facilities and all employees wearing masks. We have implemented these requirements as thermometers and masks have come available.
In our Rhode Island operation, we have several employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those individuals are currently in self quarantine or under medical care. All employees who recently came in contact with those individuals have been asked to contact their company funded healthcare providers and are home on paid sick leave. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.
The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations is aware of the situation. It is not clear whether they will investigate further.