A Mississippi slaughterhouse that provides chicken to companies like Chick-fil-A was found responsible for the death of a 16-year-old sanitation worker who was pulled into a machine in July 2023, according to federal officials.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a press release that the fatal incident marked the second time in just two years that the Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi “disregarded safety standards,” leading to the death of a worker.
An investigation conducted by OSHA found that on July 14, 2023, a 16-year-old contract worker employed by Onin Staffing, LLC was cleaning the deboning area of the plant. As the teenager sanitized the machine, which was still hooked up to power, the teen was caught in a rotating shaft and sprockets before getting pulled in, sustaining fatal injuries.
OSHA investigators found lockout/tagout procedures were not used to turn the power off, nor was a lockout/tagout device used to prevent the machine from turning on while it was being cleaned, despite supervision by a manager in and around the area before the fatal incident.
“Mar-Jac Poultry is aware of how dangerous the machinery they use can be when safety standards are not in place to prevent serious injury and death,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer said. “The company’s inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy, which has left so many to mourn this child’s preventable death.”
As a result, Mar-Jac Poultry was cited for 14 serious violations as well as over $200,000 in penalties.
The violations accuse the company of failing to ensure energy control procedures were used to prevent the unexpected start-up of machines while being cleaned; failing to ensure employees used logout/tagout devices on machines while being cleaned; failing to ensure an energy control procedure included specific steps to block and secure portions of the machinery while performing the cleaning; and failing to ensure the machinery had guarding to prevent employees from entering danger zones while in operation.
Mar-Jac did not immediately respond to inquiries from Fox News Digital on the matter.
In May 2021, OSHA cited the same Mar-Jac facility for an incident in which an employee’s shirt sleeve was caught in a machine, resulting in fatal injuries after being pulled in.
“Following the fatal incident in May 2021, Mar-Jac Poultry should have enforced strict safety standards in its facility,” Petermeyer said. “Only about two years later, nothing has changed, and the company continues to treat employee safety as an afterthought, putting its workers at risk. No worker should be placed in a preventable, dangerous situation, let alone a child.”
Mar-Jac Poultry was founded in 1954 and is based in Gainesville, Georgia. The company has facilities in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and raises live birds for poultry production food service.
OSHA said Mar-Jac has 15 business days from the receipt of their violation citations to comply, request a conference with the agency or contest the findings.
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