Bumble Bee tuna plant

A Los Angeles man was slowly cooked to death when a co-worker filled a Bumble Bee Foods pressure cooker with 12,000 pounds of tuna and turned the machine on.

Bumble Bee tuna plant

Jose Melena, 62, was inside the 35-foot long pressure cooker performing routine maintenance before dawn on Oct. 11, 2012 at the Santa Fe Springs plant, when he died.

A supervisor discovered Melena missing an hour later, and co-workers searched the facility and parking lot looking for him.

Melena’s body was found when the machine was turned off and opened 2 hours later. Temperatures inside the cooker reached 270 degrees.

The worker who turned the cooker on said he mistakenly believed Melena was on a bathroom break.

Los Angeles prosecutors on Monday charged Bumble Bee Foods and 2 factory managers with three counts each of violating safety procedures.

Angel Rodriguez, 63, plant Operations Director, and former safety manager Saul Florez, 42, face up to 3 years in prison and fines up to $250,000 if convicted of all charges. Bumble Bee Foods faces fines up to $1.5 million, the NY Daily News reports. The San Diego-based company was fined $74,000 in 2013 for violating American safety regulations.

The state’s occupational safety agency mandates that safety measures be in place at factories where workers enter heavy machinery.

lockout tagout

In response to 189 industrial workplace deaths in 2013 (like the accident pictured above), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) developed a safety program called “Lockout, Tagout”.

lockout tagout

Workers are trained to lock and tag the heavy equipment so it can’t be operated while a worker is inside. In most cases only the worker inside the machinery has the key to remove the lock.

Bumble Bee is appealing the penalties.