Tragedy at a Poultry Plant: Investigating the Death of a 16-Year-Old Worker in Mississippi

Death of a 16-Year-Old Worker in Mississippi

Tragedy at a Poultry Plant: Investigating the Death of a 16-Year-Old Worker in Mississippi

A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy was killed at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on July 14, 2023. Duvan Tomas Perez, a middle school student from Huispache, was the victim. His untimely death has shaken the local community and raised concerns about poultry safety and child labor laws.

Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg experienced the incident around 8 p.m. Plant equipment killed Perez, according to reports. Despite the poultry industry’s ban on underage labor, the incident involved underage workers. This calls into question the company’s child labor compliance and commitment to employee safety.

After the tragedy, OSHA and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division began investigating. They investigate the accident’s cause, safety violations, and liability. An OSHA spokesperson stated that if violations are found, the company could face federal fines of over $30,000 per incident.

The poultry industry needs better safety protocols and enforcement after the tragedy, which has devastated the local community. The accident haunts witnesses. Perez’s cries for help went unanswered, according to a worker on duty. The incident is a grim reminder of the risks poultry processors, especially young ones, face.

Duvan Tomas Perez’s relatives remember him as a kind, responsible, and cheerful student and worker. His family and friends are grieving, and they are facing an immigration issue. They mourn his life and his potential.

Mar-Jac Poultry condoled Perez’s death and acknowledged the gravity of the situation. Facility manager Joe Colee stressed that employees are the company’s most valuable asset and reaffirmed their safety commitment. He said the company is cooperating with the investigation and will take immediate action if needed.


Death of a 16-Year-Old Worker in Mississippi

Mar-Jac Poultry has had fatal accidents before. After being partially pinned under a machine, an employee died in May 2021. OSHA fined the company $27,306 for that incident. Mar-Jac disputed the fine, so the case is ongoing. This raises questions about the company’s safety record and response time to safety violations.

Former Obama administration OSHA official Debbie Berkowitz called Mar-Jac Poultry’s safety practices “horrible” and accused the company of obstructing OSHA’s investigation of serious injuries. She questioned the company’s OSHA compliance and safety inspections.

The incident also highlights US-migrant child labor violations. The Biden administration is investigating allegations of underage migrants working in poultry and other industries in at least 11 states. This investigation seeks to enforce child labor laws and protect all workers, regardless of immigration status, from exploitation and unsafe working conditions.

The loss of Duvan Tomas Perez is a painful reminder of the risks poultry workers face and the need for stronger safety regulations and enforcement. The community mourns the loss of a young life and seeks answers to prevent future tragedies as investigations continue. The investigations and regulatory authorities’ actions will determine justice and poultry workers’ safety.


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