EHS Administration, Enforcement and Inspection

OSHA, WHD Investigating Poultry Plant Fatality, Child Labor Violations

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) are investigating workplace safety and child labor violations at a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, poultry plant following the death of a 16-year-old worker, the DOL announced September 11.

“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,” Courtney Bohannon, OSHA’s Jackson, Mississippi, area office director, said in an agency statement.

OSHA obtained a warrant from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to secure access to the Mar-Jac facility and investigate safety hazards related to the incident. The warrant allows federal officials to question any agent, employee, employer, or operator privately and review records related to the operation and maintenance of the equipment involved in the incident.

“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,” Bohannon said. “With help from Mar-Jac’s workers, we can make sure the employer provides a safer environment for everyone who works there.”

OSHA encouraged Hattiesburg Mar-Jac Poultry employees to contact the agency or its Jackson area office or submit a confidential online complaint. The agency is also collaborating with advocacy groups like the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi to contact immigrant workers who are fearful of employer retaliation if they cooperate with investigators.

OSHA reiterated that federal law gives all workers in the United States, regardless of immigration status, legal rights to a safe and healthy workplace and to file a confidential complaint and request an OSHA inspection if they believe hazardous conditions exist at their workplace.

Gainesville, Georgia-based Mar-Jac Poultry has processing plants, feed mills, and hatcheries in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, according to OSHA. The company produces 2 million birds and 8,500 tons of feed per week, shipping worldwide, primarily to the food service industry.

Missouri contractor facing $205K OSHA fine

Jamesport, Missouri, contractor Troyer Roofing & Coatings is facing $205,369 in OSHA penalties for one willful violation, three serious violations, and one other-than-serious violation after an 18-year-old employee applying sealant to a commercial building’s roof fell more than 22 feet and suffered serious injuries that left him in a coma for 5 days before dying.

After the fall, the employer allowed a foreman and another worker to continue working without fall protection until they finished their shift, OSHA stated September 8.

OSHA inspectors learned the employer had fall protection equipment available but allowed employees to decide if they wanted to use it.

Agency investigators determined that, in addition to not ensuring employees used fall protection, the contractor failed to train them on how to use it. Investigators also found that Troyer Roofing failed to provide workers with face and eye protection and didn’t have a written hazard communication program for sealants and other chemicals the employer used.

OSHA’s construction industry fall protection standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501) is the agency’s most frequently cited standard, cited 5,260 times in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The hazard communication standard is the agency’s second most frequently cited standard, and the fall protection training and eye and face protection standards are OSHA’s eighth and ninth most frequently cited standards.

“Troyer Roofing & Coatings could have prevented this young worker’s death by requiring their employees to use fall protection equipment,” Karena Lorek, OSHA’s Kansas City, Missouri, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Disturbingly, the employer allowed other workers to go back to work on the same roof without fall protection.”

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