Lazy eyes listen
Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) of the United States was caught illegally employing children, some as young as 13, to work in slaughterhouses, one of the country’s most dangerous labor environments.
According to the US Department of Labor, the Wisconsin-based company employed at least 102 children aged 13 to 17 and assigned them to work overnight shifts at 13 meatpacking plants in eight states. PSSI, one of the largest US providers of food safety and sanitation services, paid more than $1.5 million in fines, or $15,138 per illegally employed child.
Federal investigators discovered that PSSI hired minors worked with hazardous chemicals and cleaned slaughterhouse equipment such as back saws and head splitters. At least three of the children were injured, including a 14-year-old who worked from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. six days a week and had to miss school due to a chemical burn.
According to government data, meatpacking is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, with workers three times more likely to suffer serious injury than the average American worker. Because of the abundance of saws, grinders, hooks, and extruders, common injuries include finger or hand amputations, fractures, burns, and head trauma.
“These children should never have been employed in meatpacking plants,” Jessica Loman, a deputy administrator with the Department of Labor, said.
When PSSI’s own systems flagged some of its hires as minors, the department discovered that PSSI ignored the notices it received. When investigators arrived with warrants, company officials allegedly attempted to sabotage their investigation.
“No child should be subjected to the conditions discovered in this investigation,” said Seema Nanda, a Department of Labor solicitor. Employers in the United States are permitted by law to hire minors for certain jobs, but not for those deemed hazardous.