Prosecutors say Bumble Bee Foods must pay $6 million in the 2012 death of an employee who was cooked in an industrial oven with tons of tuna — the biggest settlement ever in a California for workplace safety violations involving a single victim.Jose Melena, 62, died three years ago in a 35-foot long, 270-degree oven at the seafood company’s Santa Fe Springs, California. Melena was making repairs inside the pressure cooker, when a co-worker mistakenly believed he was in the bathroom and filled a pressure cooker with six tons of canned tuna, closed the doors and then turned it on. Melena’s family will receive $1.5 million under the settlement. It does not prevent them from also suing the company or receiving workers’ compensation funds. Bumble Bee will be plead guilty to a misdemeanor of willfully failing to have an effective safety program in January 2017 if it completes several safety measures that include upgrading ovens so workers don’t get trapped inside and providing worker training. In addition, the district attorney’s Environmental Enforcement Fund will get $750,000 from Bumble Bee and the food firm will also will pay $750,000 in combined fines.
We will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring that employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities.