Photos and Video From Inside Topeka Frito-Lay Plant Show Hazardous Conditions

And pictures of time sheets I obtained confirm allegations that the company is pushing workers to the brink

Photos and video from inside the Topeka Frito-Lay plant where workers are into their second week of a strike action show a hazardous and dangerous work environment for staff.

Bad wiring, dangerous storage, and apparent fire code violations were in the photos sent to me by current and former staffers, confirming accounts of a workplace where safety isn’t a priority.

I also obtained pictures of time sheets at the plant which appear to confirm claims from workers about grueling, 12-hour days that are forced on them by management.

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Fire safety

Workers I spoke to told me that fires are frequent at the plant, usually starting in the kitchen—where temperatures are regularly in excess of 100 degrees.

Video from a fire six months ago shows the smoke completely covering everything one floor up, where boxes for shipping are put together.

A photo from the kitchen in the aftermath of the fire shows similar low visibility.

That’s just part of the problem. Photos from production show that boxes are being pushed nearly up to the lines, a fire code violation that would easily result in injuries or worse in a smoky environment.

It hasn’t changed, either—these two photos were taken on Monday.


More hazards

Fans with faulty wiring sit by the conveyors that send boxes of product to trailers for delivery.

That presents serious problems, a worker in that section of the plant told me—despite the danger, they’re still plugged in.

The heat in the loading dock regularly reaches 98-110, the worker told me, and staff only get one break per four-hour work period.

“Exposed active electrical wires and broken industrial conveyors held together by straps and tape,” they said. “Hot as hell and they can't have fans that don't work.”

The worker also cited “overhead hazards like pallets that hang off the rack” as dangers in the plant that Frito-Lay does nothing about.

“People have died at other plants from this type of hazard,” they said.

More on the strike

“Stay over”

Photos of schedule sheets from last year passed to me appear to fully confirm the allegations from multiple workers at the plant that Frito-Lay regularly forces them to work 12 hour days—sometimes for seven days a week—through mandatory overtime.

According to workers I spoke to, the “F” next to highlighted names in the below chart from December indicates that the staffer is being “Forced” to work a stay over shift, or four more hours. “V” refers to workers who have “Volunteered” to do so.

In this chart from June, workers who have a Wednesday-Thursday weekend, or who work Friday-Tuesday, are being “Forced” or are “Volunteering” to work on their days off.

Here, workers are expected to both stay over and come in early. When those shifts come one after another, they’re referred to as “suicide shifts,” one staffer told me.

“You only get 5, 6 hours of sleep doing 12’s then another 12,” the staffer said.

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