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Worker Cooked to Death at Seafood Plant

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By Andrew Lu on October 17, 2012 8:58 AM

An employee at a Bumble Bee Foods factory in California was killed by being cooked to death.

Jose Malena apparently fell into a "steamer machine" at the tuna processing plant in Santa Fe Springs. The machine is basically a giant oven. When paramedics arrived at the scene, the 62-year-old Malena was already dead, reports KTLA-TV.

OSHA investigators are looking into the incident and so far it's not clear how the employee ended up inside the device. Malena had been with the company for more than six years.

Generally, every employer is required to maintain and safe and healthy work environment for its employees. However, this duty is especially heightened when workers work at a potentially dangerous factory with very large and very powerful machines.

Malena's job at the Bumble Bee factory had involved pushing baskets of sealed cans into a pressure cooker, reports KTLA. This process sterilizes the canned tuna, which is then cooled, dried, labeled and inspected before being shipped to stores.

In light of Malena's death, there are obvious dangers to the industrial pressure cooker and steaming machine. As the employer, Bumble Bee had the duty to properly train its employees on using the device, to provide the necessary safety equipment, and to take steps to make the equipment as safe as reasonably possible.

As California's OSHA investigates Malena's death, the agency will be looking for unsafe working conditions and could fine the company for any hazards. Still, the fact is that certain jobs are inherently dangerous and there is no way to completely negate every chance for injury or death.

OSHA's investigations typically take three to four months, reports KTLA. Depending upon the outcome of the investigation, Bumble Bee may be subject to administrative fines and the company may be sued in a wrongful death action if it was found to be at fault.

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