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California industrial accident leads to fine for Bumble Bee Foods

Investigators with the California Department of Industrial Relations have recommended that Bumble Bee Foods LLC be fined upwards of $74,000 for six citations. The citations were issued in the aftermath of an industrial accident that killed a worker in October of last year. The worker was accidentally "cooked" in one of the company's industrial size pressure cookers.

It was the worker's job to load the pressure cookers each day. It is assumed that on the day in question he went inside one of the ovens in order to either repair or adjust a chain. Another employee noticed that the pallet jack the worker was known to use was sitting outside the oven. Assuming the worker had stepped away, the other employee proceeded to use the jack. It wasn't until later that his absence was noticed and workers began searching the facility for him.

After searching for over an hour, someone suggested looking inside the oven that had been loaded last. Once the oven had been cooled down enough to allow safe entry, employees found the missing worker inside the oven. Emergency personnel were called to the plant where they pronounced the man dead.

Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Industrial Relations determined that the company had been instructing employees to make adjustments or repairs to the chains inside the ovens for years. This practice was determined to be unsafe. Every employer is responsible for providing a safe work environment to its employees. When an employee is injured or killed in an industrial accident, the employee, and possibly the employee's family, may be entitled to certain workers' compensation benefits.

Source: Daily Democrat Online, "Bumble Bee Foods cited over worker killed in industrial oven in Santa Fe Springs," Brian Day, May 8, 2013

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