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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C.
Helping Injured Workers In Arizona Since 1973

Worker dies on the job at tuna processing plant

Few people appreciate the sacrifices of factory workers until an industrial accident occurs. Take the gruesome case of a tuna processing plant worker who lost his life due to a factory accident.

While the worker was servicing a 35-foot pressure cooker, his colleagues mistakenly thought he was in the restroom. They filled the oven with six tons of canned tuna and turned it on. When the man was reported missing, his colleagues searched for him in the factory. Not until two hours later did they realize he was still in the pressure cooker, dead from exposure to the extreme heat that routinely reaches 270 degrees.

In this case, safety procedures were either inadequate or not followed. The punishment for OSHA safety violations is typically a monetary fine, if anything. Here, the company and the responsible managers face fines of up to $1.5 million and $250,000, respectively.

Due to the seriousness of this case, the company and its managers have also been charged criminally. The charges state that they failed to establish an adequate safety plan or rules for employees in confined and tight spaces. They also failed to install safety equipment that would keep the pressure cooker from operating while an employee was inside. If convicted, the managers could be imprisoned for up to three years for these violations.

Plant operations like these require rigorous safety standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is the primary U.S. agency responsible for setting and monitoring workplace safety standards.

When serious workplace accidents happen, employees, or their surviving family members if a fatality is involved, are eligible to receive weekly workers' compensation benefits based on a percentage of the employee's salary before the accident.

For employees who pay the ultimate price trying to bring products to American consumers, workers' compensation benefits are the least a grateful public can provide in return.

Source: ABC15 Arizona, "Man cooked alive with 12,000 pounds of tuna" April 28, 2015

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