(RepublicanView.org) – A poultry plant in Mississippi has been fined nearly $213,000 after being hit with 17 safety violations in the wake of the death of a teenage employee last year. In July, 16-year-old Duvan Tomas Perez was deep-cleaning a de-boning machine that, without his knowledge, was still switched on. The machine was accidentally activated and pulled the boy into its rotating shaft, killing him.
The incident happened at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg and was the third fatality at the plant in three years. Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem did not publish specific details about the accident at the request of the teenager’s family, but the plant confirmed in a press release that he died after becoming “entangled” in the machine. Perez and his family are immigrants from Guatemala and moved to the United States over six years ago.
In a press release, Mar-Jac Poultry said it contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) immediately after the incident and was fully cooperative with its investigations.
Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity (IAJE) spokesperson Jess Manrriquez condemned the working conditions of some young immigrants in America and said the employment of underage children in substandard conditions is rife. According to NPR, Manrriquez claimed there was “a lot of child labor” at the Hattiesburg plant and “a lot that needs to be investigated.”
IAJE executive director Lorena Quiroz wrote to the Department of Labor stating that the plant in question has a history “of worker deaths” and subjects staff to “deplorable and unsafe” conditions. The letter urged state officials to conduct a statewide inquiry to “uncover and rid the state” of these conditions.
According to Labor Department regulations, workers under the age of 18 cannot work in any hazardous job and are expressly prohibited from working with heavy machinery or in meat processing roles. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 are permitted only to work in clerical environments, retail jobs, grounds maintenance, cleaning, delivery work, or pumping gas.
Mar-Jac has stated that the teen who died got the job by using the identity of a 32-year-old man.
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