OSHA Steps Up Its Investigation of Mar-Jac Poultry Following Teen Worker

OSHA Steps Up Its Investigation of Mar-Jac Poultry Following Teen Worker's Death

The agency has obtained a warrant, allowing further scrutiny into the facility’s operation.

Federal authorities are intensifying their investigation into the death of 16-year-old worker Duvan Tomas Perez at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Following Perez’s death in July 2023, OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division launched probes concerning potential workplace safety and child labor violations. Now in a release dated Sept. 11, OSHA announced it has secured a warrant from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, granting access to the Mar-Jac plant.

This warrant allows federal agents to privately interview Mar-Jac employees and review associated equipment records related to the incident. Employees have been urged to contact OSHA directly, with an option to remain anonymous. OSHA is also collaborating with the local community as well as advocacy groups, such as the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi, to engage immigrant workers who may be hesitant to come forward.

“As federal investigators continue to try to understand how a 16-year-old died at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, we are asking current Mar-Jac employees for their assistance,” OSHA Area Director Courtney Bohannon in Jackson, Mississippi, said in a statement. “Federal law protects the rights of workers to participate in a U.S. Department of Labor investigation and forbids employers from interfering in any way, including by retaliating against an employee who does. With help from Mar-Jac's workers, we can make sure the employer provides a safer environment for everyone who works there."

Based in Gainesville, Georgia, Mar-Jac Poultry has processing plants, feed mills and hatcheries across Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The company was previously the subject of OSHA violations in May 2021, when a worker lost his life after his clothing got caught in a piece of machinery. Mar-Jac contested that case, which still remains open.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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