America’s ‘Dirty Dozen’: The Worst Companies to Work for in 2023, According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

America’s ‘Dirty Dozen’: The Worst Companies to Work for in 2023, According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH National) released its “Dirty Dozen” report on Thursday, highlighting the twelve companies that failed to enforce safety laws to protect their employees in 2023—a year noted for the scant protection afforded to minors in the workplace.

According to data from the Department of Labor (DOL), approximately 5,800 minors were found working in violation of U.S. labor laws, marking an 88% increase since 2019. Jessica E. Martínez, co-director of COSH National, stated during a press conference that “an increasing number of children are being assigned to hazardous jobs.”

The report includes major corporations like Uber, SpaceX, and Walmart, but also features lesser-known entities like Mar-Jac Poultry MS LLC and Onion Staffing. These companies were spotlighted due to the death of Guatemalan minor Duvan Pérez, who died on July 14 last year at a processing plant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the DOL, has cited Mar-Jac Poultry 35 times over the past decade for safety violations.

Prior to Pérez’s death, which occurred while he was cleaning a chicken deboning machine, two workers had died at the plant and others had suffered lacerations, injuries, and even an amputation, the report notes.

Mar-Jac Poultry has blamed Onin Staffing for illegally hiring Pérez, although Onin Staffing denies these allegations. Additionally, the report includes Florence Hardwoods in Wisconsin, where 16-year-old Michael Shuls was crushed by a conveyor belt. The DOL found that the company had illegally employed nine teenagers, three of whom suffered work-related injuries before the fatal incident.

Costa Farms in Florida also made the list, after pushing against heat safety protections even after the heat-related death of one of its employees. The company supported a recent law signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, which prevents cities or counties from establishing or enforcing worker protections against heat and high temperatures.

Employees of Costa Farms have reported ongoing unsafe conditions, including a lack of drinking water and exposure to toxic chemicals during fumigation. Ana Mejía, a Salvadoran employee, shared on Thursday that she has suffered heatstroke and other severe symptoms due to the extreme heat, without receiving adequate care.

The “Dirty Dozen” report of 2024 highlights the pressing issues in American workplaces, particularly the risky environments that some employers create and the inadequate legal measures to protect vulnerable workers, such as minors and low-income employees.