WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The U.S. Department of Labor has reported the findings of a federal investigation that it has uncovered more than 100 children under 13 doing dangerous work at nightcleaning 13 meat processing plants in eight states, including Kansas.
The Labor Department said the violations at one of the nation’s largest food safety sanitation services, Packers Sanitation Services, Inc., were systemic and “clearly indicate a company-wide failure at every level.”
The Wisconsin-based company instructed teenagers to clean hazardous electrical equipment such as saws using dangerous chemicals. Packers Sanitation Services employs 17,000 workers at 700 sites nationwide.
In all, the company paid $1.5 million for violations. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows for a fine of more than $15,000 for any minor hired in violation of the law, set the fine amount for Packers. The report showed that 26 affected minors connected to the company were put to work at a plant in Dodge City.
“These children should never have been employed in meatpacking plants and that can only happen when employers fail to take responsibility to prevent child labor violations in the first place,” the labor department said.