Bumble Bee Pays $6 million for Death of Worker

On one of his early morning shifts, Jose Melena stepped into a 35-foot-long cylinder-shaped oven at the Bumble Bee Foods plant in Santa Fe Springs. The 62-year-old father of six needed to make a quick repair inside the massive industrial pressure cooker, which is used to sterilize thousands of cans of tuna at a time. Not realizing Melena was inside, fellow employees shut the machine door behind him on that day in October 2012 and turned the oven on. With temperatures reaching about 270 degrees, Melena was cooked to death. On Wednesday, Melena’s gruesome death resulted in the largest known payout for workplace safety violations involving a single victim in a California criminal prosecution. Bumble Bee Foods will pay $6 million for “willfully violating worker safety rules,” according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.


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