At Animal Justice, we use the law to help animals. Sometimes that means using animal protection laws, but often it means using other laws, unrelated to animals, to hold industry accountable and shine a spotlight on the abuse animals endure. If you can’t get the mafia for murder, get them for tax evasion, right?
In addition to being a nightmare for animals, slaughterhouse work is notoriously dangerous and abusive for workers. Occupational health and safety regulations are frequently engaged by workers suffering from injuries on the job.
The family of a worker from Hallmark Poultry slaughterhouse in Vancouver even sued the company for wrongful death after Bao Min Cheng died of a heart attack following a 13 hour shift. In court documents, the family stated that Hallmark hires non-English-speaking Chinese migrants and has them working up to 70 hours per week.
In recent years, Vancouver residents have increasingly attended vigils at Hallmark to observe and document the crates of animals in their last moments before slaughter. Witnesses are able to stand in a public alley between Hallmark buildings to get an up-close view of the killing operations, and interactions with slaughterhouse officials have been tense, with animal advocates repeatedly assaulted.
Last summer, Hallmark employees were seen driving forklifts carrying crates full of live chickens held high in the air. They even drove the forklifts straight over bystanders’ heads, which is illegal because of the obvious danger it creates. Workplace safety regulations require forklift operators to keep even non-live loads close to the ground out of safety concerns.
With the assistance of Animal Justice, courageous witnesses reported the violations to Work Safe BC, the agency responsible for workplace safety. According to inspection reports obtained under freedom of information legislation, the slaughterhouse has now been reprimanded for its dangerous conduct and ordered to retrain its employees on safe forklift handling requirements.
From the inspection report, Hallmark has now directed “operators that, should they be confronted by persons attempting to block or disrupt their travel, they will refrain from attempting to go forward and will move to a safe location, maintain distance from those person(s), and ensure the lift truck load is grounded.”
This is a small victory for animals and those who speak up for them. If you need assistance reporting violations of any legislation that governs animal-use facilities, please contact us.
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