Harrowing photos released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) taken at a slaughterhouse plant in Nebraska show the conditions more than 100 children faced while illegally working for Packers Sanitation Services Incorporated (PSSI) before the department cracked down on the company for violating child labor laws, reports The Guardian.
The pictures show employees covered in protective gear, using chemicals to spray down and sanitize equipment. In some of the pictures, made public on May 7 by 60 Minutes, some of the employees appear to be young children, wearing protective face glasses and holding buckets.
In February, the labor department fined PSSI $1.5m for employing at least 102 children ages 13 to 17 across 13 meat-packing plants in eight states. The fine amounts to $15,138 for each child, the maximum penalty under federal law. The Wisconsin-based company is one of the largest food sanitation companies in the U.S. and is contracted by meat plants to sanitize facilities. The company says it works with more than 725 partner plants.
The department started its investigation into PSSI in August 2022 after a middle school in Grand Island, Nebraska, notified police that a 14-year-old student came to school with acid burns on her hands and knees. The girl told staff that she was working night shifts at a local slaughterhouse plant. Teachers also noticed that other students were falling asleep in class after reportedly working at the plant at night.
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