$8m penalty after worker is 'cooked alive'

LOS ANGELES • California-based canned tuna company Bumble Bee Foods will have to pay a record US$6 million (S$8.4 million) after the death of one of its employees, who was accidentally cooked in an industrial oven in 2012.

The penalty, part of a settlement announced yesterday, is the largest for a workplace safety violation in the state involving a single worker.

Mr Jose Melena, 62, entered a 10.6m pressurised steam cooker as part of his regular job duties on Oct 11, 2012, before co-workers, who did not realise he was inside, turned the oven on, trapping and killing him.

Half of the US$6 million penalty will go to replacing the outdated tuna ovens so that workers will never again need to enter them, for maintenance or any other reason.

The family of Mr Melena will receive US$1.5 million. Bumble Bee will also have to make a public statement conceding guilt. The plant's director and former safety manager will also need to issue a statement conceding guilt in addition to paying fines and performing community service.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline '$8m penalty after worker is 'cooked alive''. Print Edition | Subscribe