An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation into the death of a man in an industrial 35-foot-long pressure cooker resulted in charges against Bumble Bee Foods, a plant operations director and the former safety manager. The worker died in the Santa Fe Springs plant. Another worker did not know he was inside the cooker cleaning it when he filled it with 22,000 pounds of tuna.
The pressure cooker reached a temperature of 270 degrees after being turned on. During this time, a supervisor noticed that the 62-year-old victim was missing. Workers found his body two hours later when the tuna cooker was opened.
According to Los Angeles prosecutors, the charges specify that the two managers, along with the company, did not enforce a safety plan or establish rules for workers in confined spaces. If convicted, the managers could face a possible three years in prison plus fines up to $250,000. Fines against Bumble Bee Foods could reach as high as $1.5 million.
Although OSHA pressed charges against the company and its managers in this case, a workplace accident does not have to be caused by someone's negligence for an injured worker to collect workers' compensation benefits. Reporting the accident to an employer, however, is necessary to begin the claims process. Industrial accidents are a common source of injuries, but any on-the-job accident could qualify an employee for benefits. An injured worker sometimes consults with an attorney when making a claim. The representation of an attorney can also be helpful at a subsequent hearing should the claim be disputed or denied.
Source: USA Today, "Bumble Bee Foods charged after man cooked with tuna", April 28, 2015
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