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Company fined for employing minors in dangerous jobs at meatpacking plants in Nebraska

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — The US Department of Labor has fined one of the nation’s largest sanitation providers more than $1.5 million for employing minors in hazardous jobs, including more than 30 in Nebraska.

The US Department of Labor announced Friday that it has fined Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD (PSSI), based in Keeler, Wisconsin, for employing 102 children aged 13 to 17 in dangerous jobs at 13 meat processing plants in eight states.

The children allegedly used hazardous chemicals, worked night shifts and cleaned razor-sharp meat processing equipment, including back saws, brisket saws and head splitters.

The US Department of Labor reports that at least three minors were injured while working at PSSI.

The investigation began in August 2022, and on November 9, 2022, prosecutors filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court of Nebraska alleging that PSSI hired at least 31 minors to clean potentially dangerous power equipment during night shifts at JBS USA factories in two states. .

Of the eight states involved, Nebraska had the highest number of juveniles allegedly hired by PSSI for hazardous work, including 27 juveniles at JBS food on Grand Island, five at Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc and one at Gibbon Packing Co.

The US Department of Labor claims that at least 102 children have been hired by PSSI to clean up potentially dangerous sites. At least 31 children involved were employed at various facilities in Nebraska (US Department of Labor).

“The child labor violations in this case were systematic and spanned eight states and clearly point to the company-wide failure of Packers sanitation services at all levels,” said Jessica Luman, chief associate administrator for payroll and hours. “These children should never have worked in meatpacking plants and that can only happen if employers don’t take responsibility for preventing child labor violations in the first place.”

PSSI was fined $15,138 for each minor in hazardous work, the maximum allowed under federal law.

The US Department of Labor also claims that PSSI did not fully cooperate with the investigation.

“Our investigation found that Packers Sanitation Services’ systems flagged some young workers as underage, but the company ignored the labels. When the Payroll and Hours department arrived with the warrants, the adults who recruited, hired, and supervised these kids tried to derail our efforts to investigate their recruitment practices,” said Regional Payroll and Hours Administrator Michael Lazzeri in Chicago.

On February 16, PSSI paid over $1.5 million in fines.

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