(NewsReady.com) – Duvan Tomas Pérez, 16, died in July 2023 while working at a Mississippi poultry plant. The teen was pulled into a machine he was not legally allowed to clean. Federal authorities have now fined the plant for his death.
On January 16, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a report about its investigation into the teen’s death at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg. According to the findings, Pérez was performing a deep clean on a deboning machine. The teenager’s arm got stuck in the machine’s sprockets and rotating shaft. The machine pulled Pérez into it, and he suffered fatal injuries.
Federal investigators learned that a supervisor was in the area prior to Pérez’s death but did not disconnect the machine’s power supply. Further, the machine was not equipped with a device that could have prevented it from inadvertently starting while someone was cleaning it.
Minors are not supposed to clean meat-processing machines because they are so dangerous. Not only was he using it, but the proper safety protocols weren’t put “in place to prevent serious injury and death.” OSHA administrator Kurt Petermeyer said Mar-Jac Poultry’s “inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy” and called the teenager’s death “preventable.”
Ultimately, OSHA found the plant violated three other-than-serious and 14 serious violations. The federal agency has proposed fines of more than $212,000.
Pérez was the second person to die at the plant in less than two years. The other incident happened on May 31, 2021, when an employee was removing chicken parts stuck in the rotating carousel of a Meyn Maestro Eviscerator machine. The worker’s shirt got trapped in the machine, and it pulled him onto the pan below the machine and pinned his body partially under the carousel. He suffered fatal injuries as a result.
Petermeyer slammed the company for not taking steps to make the plant safer after the first death, saying the company “continues to treat employee safety as an afterthought” and puts them in danger.
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