Worker dies in Hattiesburg poultry plant accident
A Hattiesburg man recently became the second employee to die in a workplace accident at a Mar-Jac Poultry Plant in the last six months.
In late May, Bobby Butler, 48, died in an accident that involved a piece of heavy machinery. The exact cause of his death or the conditions under which it occurred are not yet known.
Mar-Jac is a fully integrated poultry production company with a headquarters in Gainesville, Georgia. Established in 1954, Mar-Jac ships its products worldwide. The company processes about 2 million birds per week. The company has at least 10 locations in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. In addition to the Hattiesburg site, there is a second Mar-Jac plant in Mississippi, in Waynesboro.
Butler received the fatal injury while working in the "evisceration department," the Hattiesburg plant manager said in a statement. There were no witnesses to the accident and Butler was taken to the hospital by an ambulance once he was discovered.
In December of 2020, Mar-Jac reported another employee death. Joel Velasco Toto, 33, died when he and others were "playing with machinery."
Mississippi workplace injuries
Recently, Mississippi has seen a reduction in the number of workplace injuries and deaths. In 2019, almost 60 people died from Mississippi workplace injuries. This is significantly lower than a 10-year high of 90 deaths in 2017.
For the most part, the deaths included one of the following factors:
- Transportation, which accounted for 51% of all Mississippi workplace accidents in 2019
- Violence by people or animals, 17% of fatalities
- Contact with objects and equipment, 14%
- Falls, slips, trips, 10%
Over the last few years, Mississippi workplace deaths have included:
- Engulfed in garbage, Robinsonville
- Fatally struck by forklift, Shuqualak
- Struck by falling drill hoist, Collins
- Struck by fan, Louisville
- Fall from tower, Starkville
- Electrocuted by air conditioning unit, Crystal Springs
- Oil tank explosion, Waynesboro
When someone is seriously injured or dies at work there is typically an investigation of the incident by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Mar-Jac has faced workplace safety scrutiny before. In 2009, OSHA proposed almost $380,000 in penalties against the company for health and safety violations in Gainesville.
They were cited for four "willful violations" that allege failing to update their hazard analysis or establish specific procedures to maintain the integrity of processing equipment, and failure to require compliance audits. OSHA also found 37 safety hazards, including lack of proper machine guarding, uncovered floor holes and obstructed emergency exit routes.
Industries most at risk for serious injury and fatal workplace accidents
Fatal accidents in Mississippi's production industry are rare. It is more likely someone working in manufacturing or other production services would be seriously injured, rather than killed. Common workplace injuries include amputation, broken leg bones, lacerations and cuts.
In 2019, the industry that experienced the most fatal workplace accidents in the state was transportation and materials moving, with 14 deaths.
Workplace deaths were also reported in these Mississippi industries:
- Motor vehicle drivers
- Travelling sales workers and truck drivers
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Building and grounds maintenance
- Construction and extraction
Fighting for the rights of injured workers
Workplaces are required to provide employees with a specific degree of safety. When they fail at it, you and your family should not have to suffer financially, as well as physically. You may be eligible for worker's compensation benefits and possibly civil damages.
Even if you feel it was obvious that your injury was the fault of your workplace, that doesn't mean your boss will approve you for the program. You will most likely have to prove you were badly injured and what caused that to happen.
Tabor Law Firm, P.A., helps injured Mississippi workers get the compensation they need to heal after a serious accident. We fight hard to protect worker rights and make sure our clients get everything they are owed.
Contact us for a free case consultation. We will listen to the details of your accident and take notes as you explain the extent of your injuries. Then we can explain, in plain English, how the law applies to your case and go over the best strategies to win your claim. We can also provide legal representation if you are having problems with your Social Security benefits or any other disability matter.