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Fast food outlet fined for burns

Katie Coyne08/02/2018 - 14:00

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Bucket the oil was kept in
Bucket the oil was kept in

A Burger King franchise in Ipswich has been ordered to pay almost £40,000 after hot frying oil splashed onto an employee scalding him.

The manager allowed a 16-year-old employee to carry an open bucket of hot oil through the kitchen without wearing any protective clothing.

He felt some of the oil splash onto him, causing him to drop the bucket and splash oil onto the legs, arms and face of an older colleague.

The accident happened on 8 December 2015 at the West End Road premises owned by Kaykem Fast Foods, which also runs a further three Burger King outlets. 

The company pleaded guilty to the charges at South East Suffolk Magistrate’s Court on 24 October 2017 and they were sentenced on 11 January 2018.

They were ordered to pay £26,700 in fines and costs of £12,500 for two counts of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Rosemary Naylor the Ipswich Council EHO investigating found there had been a previous, similar, incident towards the end of 2013 at the firm’s Colchester branch. 

She said: ‘The officer that investigated it had advised the company of the controls that were needed to avoid future accidents with hot oil and had told them that these controls needed to be implemented in all branches, which they failed to do.’

Ms Naylor added that on looking through the accident records at the Ipswich branch it was found that there had also been an incident with hot oil in 2014 when there was a more minor hot oil scald.  

She said: ‘The control measure identified as a result of that accident was not to fill up the bucket so much. It was claimed that the oil was emptied in the mornings when cool but these incidents demonstrated that there were deviations from this.’

The company has since updated its risk-assessment after the accident, which had been copied from the HSE template for a café – where emptying deep fat fryers are not such a big part of the business. 

Burger King’s own research has found that it can take longer than 12 hours for hot oil used in a deep fat fryer to cool from cooking temperatures to 40oC, which is the HSE’s recommended temperature for emptying.

This means that even if fat fryers are turned off at night there may not be sufficient time for the oil to cool by the morning.

Ms Naylor recommended wheeled equipment be used to drain the oil for transfer to the final receptacle. ‘This helps to avoid contact with the oil and reduces possible manual handling injury from carrying heavy buckets,’ she said.

At sentencing the company was found to have ‘high culpability’ meaning they fell far short of the appropriate standards.

The seriousness of harm risk was considered by the judge to be ‘Level C’, as they didn’t feel the harm risked would lead to permanent impairment. But because of the culture and the emptying of the fryers being a frequent occurrence, overall ‘harm category 3’ was reached.

The company was deemed ‘small’, which gave a starting point of a fine of £54k. However, as the company was at the lower end of small and there were no aggravating features the judge reduced the starting point down to £40k.

A one third reduction was given for the company’s guilty plea reducing the fine to £26,700. Costs of £12,500 awarded to the local council were around three quarters of those claimed and deemed proportionate to the fine and the company’s ability to pay.

Burger King was contacted for a comment.


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