(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.”

“We have been crystal clear from the start: Our company has a zero-tolerance policy against employing anyone under the age of 18 and fully shares the DOL’s objective of ensuring full compliance at all locations,” a spokesperson for Packers Sanitation said in a statement Friday.

The company said none of the underage workers are employed at the company today, and that “many” of them had worked there years ago.

“As soon as we became aware of the DOL’s allegations, we conducted multiple additional audits of our employee base, and hired a third-party law firm to review and help further strengthen our policies in this area,” the statement said. “We have also conducted multiple additional trainings for hiring managers, including on spotting identity theft.”

The DOL investigation began last August with an investigation of the company’s workers at JBS USA plants in Nebraska and Minnesota.

In November, a complaint was filed in the US District Court of Nebraska alleging that Packers Sanitation illegally employed at least 31 children to clean dangerous power equipment. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the company from committing further child labor law violations.

In December, Packers agreed to take “significant steps” to comply with labor laws after entering into a consent order and judgment.

Packers paid a total of $741,762 in penalties at two JBS Foods in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, for its employment of 49 minors. Separately, Packers was also fined for employing 26 minors at a Cargill Inc. processor in Dodge City, Kansas, as well as at plants in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee and Texas.

“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.

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