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Mississippi Slaughterhouse Under Scrutiny after 16-Year-Old ‘Adult’ Employee was Killed by Machinery on the Premises

A Mississippi based slaughterhouse that supplies chicken to Chick-fil-A has come under fire for not taking responsibility for the death of a 16-year-old worker who was killed during his shift at the slaughterhouse in July of 2023.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said, on Tuesday, that this Mississippi based slaughterhouse had failed to meet the required safety protocols administered by the U.S. Labour Department by employing potentially hazardous machinery on the premises. It was reported that the 16-year-old victim, who was cleaning one of these machineries, was killed on premises when while cleaning, his hand got caught in the machinery and his entire body was sucked in.

The Tragedy 

OSHA, an agency within the official US Labour Department, said that this is not the first time the Mar-Jac poultry has been a place for tragedy. In the past, this Mar-Jac Poultry was held for 14 serious violations. They were held accountable for not having implemented the required safety standards despite having life-threatening machinery on the premises. A spokesperson for OSHA said that it was because of the poultry’s continued negligence of safety protocols that the 16-year-old fell victim to such an ill-fate.

It was reported that, the 16-year-old victim, who was later identified as Duvan Pérez, was cleaning the deboning area of the Hattiesburg plant when his hand got caught in the running machinery. The force of the operating machinery was strong enough to pull the victim’s entire body in, leading to his tragic end. OSHA officials, who had investigated the matter, reported that at the time of the incident, a Mar-Jac manager was present on the scene, however, during the accident, required “procedures were not utilized to disconnect power to the machine.”

Lack of Responsibility Leads to Tragedy 

Over the short span of two years, Pérez was the second person to accidentally die at the poultry premises. These accidents have caused concerns amongst the residents and authorities. No recent official statement has been released from Mar-Jac Poultry, but in an October statement, shortly after the teen’s death, a spokesperson for the company had said that all safety protocols were now being followed on the premises.

Following Pérez’s death, the US Labor Department conducted two investigations regarding the case. The first investigation was conducted by OSHA, was primarily focused on how the victim died. The second investigation was conducted by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, that examined how a 16-year-old was even hired in the first place. The second investigation is still underway since according to the rules implemented by the federal government, no slaughterhouse is allowed to hire any individual under 18 because of how dangerous the job is.

According to various news reports and articles released regarding the case, it was discovered that the 16-year-old victim was hired illegally by using the false identity of a 32-year-old man, with the additional involvement of a third-party staffing agency. The number of children working illegally in US companies and organizations has immensely increased in the recent years, according to official reports released by the US Labor Department.

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