OSHA: Poultry Plant Directly Responsible for Death of Worker, 16

'The company's inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
Updated Jan 16, 2024 4:30 PM CST
Boy, 16, Killed in Accident at Mississippi Poultry Plant
Stock photo of a poultry plant.   (Getty Images / Itsanan Sampuntarat)
UPDATE Jan 16, 2024 4:30 PM CST

A Mississippi poultry plant's failure to follow procedures led to the death of a 16-year-old boy who was sucked into a machine in July last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday. Mar-Jac Poultry, which supplies chicken to Chick-fil-A, has been cited for 14 serious violations and could be fined more than $200,000, reports NBC News. Because he was under 18, Duvan Tomas Perez shouldn't have been working in the plant at all. "The company's inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy, which has left so many to mourn this child's preventable death," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer. He said the plant should have followed strict safety standards after a similar death two years earlier, CBS News reports.

Jul 19, 2023 1:00 AM CDT

A horrific tragedy unfolded last week at a Mississippi poultry plant, where a 16-year-old boy died in an accident on the job. Duvan Tomas Perez arrived in the US from his native Guatemala six years ago, family members say. It's not clear what happened Friday night, but the Forrest County deputy coroner says equipment at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg caused the teen's death, NBC News reports. Sanitation operations were reportedly underway when the accident took place around 8pm, WDAM reports. "Two times he began to scream, 'Help! Help!'" says another worker at the plant, who was on shift at the same time and heard the teen's cries. "I knew he had died."

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division have launched investigations into the incident. No one under the age of 18 is allowed to work at a poultry plant due to the dangerous conditions, and violations of child labor laws are punishable by fines of more than $30,000 per incident. This is the third death at the Hattiesburg plant, which has been cited for multiple safety violations in the past three years; another worker there suffered an amputation in that same time frame. (More Mississippi stories.)

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