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Bumble Bee Foods Eventually Cited over Worker’s Death in Oven

In wake of the death of a male California tuna plant worker, who was accidentally trapped and burnt in an oven, the state’s safety and health department has finally cited the plant owner over the incident, requiring the latter to pay monetary reliefs.

Recent news reports have confirmed that Bumble Bee Foods, LLC was required to pay approximately $74,000 in fines after the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health finished an investigative report following the death of the 62-year-old employee, Jose Melena.

Jose Melena was accidentally trapped and burnt in an industrial oven to death at the seafood plant in Santa Fe Springs facility last October.

According to the investigative report, the agency found six citations to Bumble Bee Foods LLC, which amounted to $73,995 in fines. Five workplace safety violations were deemed serious while one was ruled as general.

On the other hand, Bumble Bee has already confirmed that it would be acknowledging the citations in the coming weeks to settle any procedures. Also, the seafood plant affirmed to review all safety procedures from now on to ensure employee safety.

Incidentally, according to the initial investigations although it takes three people to do Melena’s job but during that time, he was left alone. Subsequent investigations determined that as ordered by his employer, he entered the 54-inch by 36-foot oven to make an adjustment to a chain inside. Meanwhile, when his co-worker arrived and noticed that nobody was performing Melena’s job, he closed the oven and continued Melena’s job assuming that the latter was just in the comfort room.

Unfortunately, it took more than 30 minutes before his co-workers figured out that he was missing and begun seeking for him until his badly burned body was recovered inside the oven.

Melena’s autopsy revealed that the worker died from burns, which he sustained from being trapped from within the giant oven that was used to cook canned tuna according to the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles labor lawyer herein likewise agreed that since Melena was ordered to adjust the oven, his employer should have taken proper safety precautions or at least properly assessed the dangers that the job poses to its employee while working inside the large oven.

Consequently, company was cited for the following violations:

•    Failure to perform inspections or audits related to the energy control procedures for the production area.
•    Failing to assess whether the ovens constituted “permit required confined spaces”.
•    Failing to post signs or notify employees regarding the confined space created by the ovens.
•    Failure to develop and implement a written permit-required confined space program.
•    Failure to implement permit-required confined space program elements as required by law.
•    Failing to prove permit-required confined space training to employees working inside the ovens.

Posted in Labor Laws, Workers Compensation.


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