Bumble Bee Foods ran into legal trouble after two of managers were charged by Los Angeles prosecutors for cooking a worker in an oven with 12,000 pounds of tuna, violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration rules.
Angel Rodriguez, the company’s plant operations director, and former safety manager Saul Florez were charged on Monday. The incident occurred on October 11, 2012, when worker Jose Melena was performing maintenance work at the plant before sunrise. He was cleaning a 35-foot-long oven at the company’s Sante Fe Springs plant when a co-worker turned on the oven, which contained 12,000 pounds of tuna.
The co-worker thought Melena was in the bathroom.
The oven became too heated, and in two hours, the temperature reached 270 degrees. The San Diego-based company was charged with violating safety measures that took the life of a worker.
According to a report by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, when the supervisor failed to find Melena anywhere, he ordered employees to search for him. After two hours, when the oven was turned off, his body was found inside.
If convicted, Rodriguez, 63, from Riverside, and Florez, 42, from Whittier, might face three years jail sentence and will be fined up to $250,000. Bumble Bee Foods was fined $1.5 million.
The San Diego-based company said in a statement, “We remain devastated by the loss of our colleague Jose Melena in the tragic accident.”