Workplace death ends in S$8.5 million settlement

A company in California has a S$8.5 million settlement bill to pay after one of its employees was cooked alive with tons of tuna in an industrial oven

Workplace death ends in S$8.5 million settlement
The death of a factory employee in 2012 has ended up in a S$8.5 million workplace safety settlement, the largest ever for a single victim in California.
 
Jose Melena, 62, was accidentally trapped in a Bumble Bee Foods industrial oven and cooked along with 12,000 pounds of tuna in October 2012.
 
His body was found two hours later after the 35-foot-long oven in Santa Fe Springs - which reached 270 degrees - was turned off and opened.
 
Melena had been mistakenly closed inside the oven by a coworker who thought he was in the toilet, and then went on to activate the pressure cooker.
 
NBC News reports the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report found the manned oven system was “inherently dangerous”.
 
The oven’s chain that pulled carts of tuna into the ovens would sometimes get snagged, requiring operators to enter the ovens to pull the carts through.
 
Bumble Bee will pay S$4.2 million to replace all of its ovens, and S$2 million in compensation to Melena’s family, according to the LA County District Court.
 
In addition, Bumble Bee is due to pay the district attorney’s Environmental Enforcement Fund S$1,060,000 and S$1,060,000 in fines, penalties and costs.
 
Former safety manager Saul Florez was sentenced to three years’ probation, 30 days of community labor and S$27,000 in fines and penalties.
 
Florez had pleaded guilty to a felony count of willfully violating lockout rules and indirectly causing Melena's death, according to NBC News.
 
Director of plant operations Angel Rodriguez will have to complete 320 hours of community service, pay S$16,000 and take classes on confined space rules, in order to be able to plead guilty in 18 months to a misdemeanor.
 
A Bumble Bee statement said it hoped the settlement brought “closure”.
 
"We will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities.”

Related stories:

Concerns raised after robot kills worker

Grieving family of dead soldier sues Armed Forces

‘Every life lost could have been saved’ – Manpower Minister

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD Asia.

Recent articles & video

Businesses jittery over prolonged HK crisis

CHRO to exit due to restructuring

Can HR deduct training costs from employees' pay?

HR leadership in an era of instant gratification

Most Read Articles

MOM reveals revised retirement policy

Is this your greatest AI nightmare?

1 in 3 quit over this top employee benefit