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Two Bumble Bee Tuna Managers Charged After Employee Was Cooked To Death

April 28, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Two Bumble Bee Tuna Managers Charged After Employee Was Cooked To Death

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles prosecutors charged two managers of Bumble Bee Foods with violating safety regulations after a worker was cooked to death in an industrial oven with tons of tuna.

Prosecutors said Jose Melena, 62, performed maintenance work on the 35-foot-long oven at Bumble Bee’s Santa Fe Springs plant on Oct. 11, 2012.
A co-worker believed Melena was using the restroom when he proceeded to drop 12,000 pounds of canned tuna inside the pressure cooker and turned the mechanism on to cook.

The supervisor in charge made an announcement over the factory’s intercom after noticing Melena, 62, was missing. Employees conducted a search for the maintenance worker throughout the plant and parking lot.

After two hours, workers discovered the body of Melena after turning off and opening the 270-degree pressure cooker.

Saul Florez, who worked as the safety manager Saul Florez and the Operations Director Angel Rodriguez, both were charged with three counts of violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration rules resulting in Melena’s death.

The state have accused the company and both men, with willfully violating the rules that require the implementation of a site safety plan for workers entering confined spaces. Additionally prosecutors indicate that procedural measures were not in place to prevent machinery or equipment from being turned on if employees are conducting work on the mechanism.

If convicted of all charges, both Rodriguez, 63, of Riverside, and Florez, 42, of Whittier, could face up three years in prison and hit with fines reaching up to $250,000 for the violations. Bumble Bee Foods could be fined as much as $1.5 million.

The San Diego-based company was fined $74,000 for previously failing to accuretely assess the dangers to employees working inside large mechanisms.

Bumble Bee has appealed the fines and announced it has since improved its safety program after the tragic death.

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