(CNN) -- A major US food sanitation company illegally employed at least 102 children between the ages of 13 and 17 in jobs that had them using caustic chemicals to clean razor-sharp saws.

Packers Sanitation Services paid $1.5 million in civil penalties for employing minors in hazardous occupations and having them working overnight shifts at 13 meat processing facilities in eight states, a US Department of Labor investigation found.

The Kieler, Wisconsin, based company employed the children to clean meat processing equipment including back saws, brisket saws and head splitters. At least three children were injured, investigators said.

The company was fined the maximum civil penalty allowed by federal law — $15,138 for each minor-aged employee "who was employed in violation of the law."

"These children should never have been employed in meat packing plants and this can only happen when employers do not take responsibility to prevent child labor violations from occurring in the first place," said Jessica Looman, principal deputy administrator of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.

Packers Sanitation Services could not be reached immediately for comment.

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