Mar-Jac Poultry Faces OSHA Citations Following 16-Year-Old Worker’s Death

Mar-Jac Poultry Faces OSHA Citations Following 16-Year-Old Worker’s Death

The poultry processing plant received 14 serious and three other-than-serious violations.

OSHA has proposed $212,646 in penalties to Mar-Jac Poultry MS LLC after an investigation into the July 2023 death of a 16-year-old worker at the company’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi plant.

On July 14, 2023, Duvan Tomas Perez was performing a deep cleaning in the plant’s deboning area when he got caught in the machinery, leading to fatal injuries. OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched investigations into the incident soon thereafter. In September 2023, OSHA had secured a warrant granting access to Mar-Jac’s Hattiesburg plant.

This incident mirrors a similar worker death at Mar-Jac in 2021. As it stands, this latest OSHA investigation into company resulted in citations for 14 serious and three other-than-serious violations. These include a failure to do the following:

  • Ensure energy control procedures were used to prevent the unexpected start-up of machines while employees performed sanitation, exposing workers to caught-in hazards 
  • Ensure employees used lockout/tagout devices on machinery when performing cleaning
  • Ensure an energy control procedure included specific steps for blocking and securing portions of the machinery while workers performed cleaning
  • Failed to ensure the machinery retained guarding to prevent employees from entering danger zones while machinery was in operation 
  • Cover open holes in 480-volt electrical cabinets, exposing workers to electrical hazards 
  • Prevent workers from using portable ladders incorrectly to gain access to elevated work surfaces, exposing workers to fall hazards

“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. The company’s inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy, which has left so many to mourn this child’s preventable death,” OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer in Atlanta said in a statement. "Following the fatal incident in May 2021, Mar-Jac Poultry should have enforced strict safety standards in its facility. Only about two years later, nothing has changed, and the company continues to treat employee safety as an afterthought."

Mar-Jac Poultry—which operates facilities in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia—has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the agency’s findings before an independent commission.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division is still conducting a child labor investigation into the matter.

About the Author

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

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