Bumble Bee Tuna Plant Worker Fatality Will Teach Us The Importance Of Lockout Tagout Procedures.

Jose Melena, 62, worked at Bumble Bee’s plant in Santa Fe. He was working in a 36-foot-by-54-inch oven — likely fixing or altering a chain inside, the Whittier Daily News reports.

“This is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed,” Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun says. “I think any person would prefer to be — if they had to die some way — would prefer to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked in an oven.

A coworker, mistakenly thinking Melena was using the restroom, loaded the oven with 12,000 pounds of tuna and turned on the oven. Another worker turned off the oven about two hours later. When it was opened, Melena was found inside.

“This is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed,” Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun says. “I think any person would prefer to be — if they had to die some way — would prefer to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked in an oven.

Former Bumble Bee safety manager Saul Florez pleaded guilty to breaking lockout rules and was hit with three years’ probation and $19,000 in penalties and fines. The sentence for Bumble Bee’s director of plant operations, Angel Rodriguez, includes fines and community service. “Certainly, nothing will bring back our dad, and our mom will not have her husband back, but much can be done to ensure this terrible accident does not happen again,” says the family in a statement.

The industrial oven was dangerously outdated. Bumble Bee replaced all of their ovens after the accident, costing about $3 million.

They also paid $1.5 million to Melena’s family. Another $1.5 million added up in fines, penalties, court costs, and miscellaneous expenses.

All together, this accident cost Bumble Bee approximately $6 million and Jose Melena’s life. Adherence to lockout tagout procedures would have made this all avoidable. Lockout Tagout, is a safety practice that protects employees and visitors from uncontrolled hazardous energy that may escape from machines or equipment during isolation or servicing.

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