OSHA cites Mar-Jac in fatal incident involving boy, 16

Company faces fine of $212,646 for 17 safety violations in accident that led to the 2023 death of Duvan Tomas Perez.

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Duvan Tomas Perez
Duvan Tomas Perez

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Mar-Jac Poultry in an incident that led to the death of a 16-year-old boy at the company’s poultry plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The citations stem from the incident that occurred on July 14, 2023, when a boy, identified later as Duvan Tomas Perez, was performing a deep clean of the deboning area of the plant. While sanitizing the still-energized machine, Perez was caught in the rotating shaft and sprockets and pulled in, sustaining fatal injuries. Investigators, according to OSHA, found that – despite a manager’s supervision in and around the area prior to and during the fatal incident –  lockout/tagout procedures were not utilized to disconnect power to the machine and a lockout/tagout device was not used to prevent the machine from unintentionally starting during the cleaning. 

OSHA cited Mar-Jac Poultry with 14 serious and three other-than-serious violations after finding the company allegedly failed to: 

  • 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.

OSHA has proposed $212,646 in penalties related to the citations. That amount was set by federal statute. 

Mar-Jac has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Perez was a contract worker who was hired by and employed by Onin Staffing to do sanitation work. As of now, Onin Staffing does not face any citations.

Perez was the third worker at the Hattiesburg plant to die on the job in recent history. On December 15, 2020, Joel Velasco Toto died after an incident in the plant’s battery changing room. Police said that incident occurred as a result of horseplay.

Then, on May 31, 2021, Bobby Butler was killed while working with evisceration machinery in the plant.

The Hattiesburg poultry plant has been a part of Mar-Jac Poultry’s operations since 2014, when the company acquired the former assets of poultry integrator Marshall Durbin Cos. located in Alabama and Mississippi in 2014.

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