The fatal accident, which is being investigated, took place at a Bumble Bee processing plant in Santa Fe Springs. (Photo: Stock File)
Worker accidentally dies at Bumble Bee seafood plant oven
Monday, October 15, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
A Bumble Bee seafood processing plant in Santa Fe Springs, California is expected to resume operations today after a worker died last week -- apparently cooked in an industrial oven.
The death is being investigated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and it will include visits to the tuna-canning plant, extensive interviews and a review of company safety documentation.
Authorities initially reported that there had been an “industrial accident” at the plant last Thursday morning, Santa Fe Springs Fire Department Division Chief Michael Crook said.
He said paramedics pronounced the man dead when they arrived at the plant. No one else was injured, Los Angeles Times reports.
"Once all of the facts are gathered, at that point, a determination will be made if California health and safety regulations were violated," said California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Spokesperson Erika Monterroza, Contra Costa Times reports.
Bumble Bee Foods executives identified the employee as Jose Melena, who had worked there for six years. It remains unclear how the man ended up inside the industrial cooker.
“The entire Bumble Bee Foods family is saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Melena family,” declared Pat Menke, the company’s vice president of human resources, in a statement.
However, it has not been as easy for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office to identify the victim. Lt Cheryl MacWillie said this weekend that the agency had not yet been able to positively identify the body because of the intense damage caused by heat.
The man died as a result of being “trapped in a pressure cooker,” he said.
The cooking device that killed the worker was described in coroner's documents as a "steamer machine," said Monterroza.
"Operations at Bumble Bee Foods' Santa Fe Springs processing plant have been suspended since yesterday morning to allow for a thorough investigation," Menke added. "We expect to be able to resume operations on Monday."
If authorities determine that the plant violated safety rules, the company could face civil penalties and possible criminal charges.
By Natalia Real