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homeTuesday 18th September 2018

Huge bill for McDonald's drive through accidents

Katie Coyne05/04/2018 - 14:02

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Lakeside Retail Park McDonalds
Lakeside Retail Park McDonalds

McDonald's Restaurants has been ordered to pay more than £227K in fines, costs and compensation after pleading guilty to two health and safety at work breaches.

Thurrock Council took action against the fast food chain following an incident in which a worker directing traffic at the firm’s restaurant in Lakeside Retail Park, West Thurrock was injured.

McDonald's pleaded guilty to two offences at Basildon Magistrates Court and sentencing took place at Basildon Crown Court on 23rd March.

On 18 April 2014 employee Danny Osborne, who was just 17 at the time, was hit by a customer’s car while directing traffic in the drive through area.

Although an ambulance wasn’t called, Mr Osborne later went to hospital in pain where it was discovered that he had fractured his knee.

The Metro newspaper reported that a statement read out in court on behalf of Mr Osborne said: 'This accident has really stopped me from doing all the things, physically, that I wanted to do growing up.’

Following Mr Osborne’s accident Thurrock’s environmental health team discovered that there had been two other instances where staff were hit by a customer’s car while directing traffic – though these were not reportable under RIDDOR. One of these workers was also 17 years old.

Management had instructed the workers to direct traffic through the drive through area despite there not being a risk assessment in place for this activity and no special training.

Following these three accidents and visits from EHOs, McDonald's did stop asking employees to direct traffic.

Tony Sprackling, principal environmental health officer and corporate safety manager, said: ‘Although McDonalds pleaded guilty to two charges, it has been a very long process to get them into court. 

‘In conclusion, we are relatively pleased with the level of fine and this matter has now been successfully concluded. The McDonald's in question is now a franchised operation.’

Recorder, Philip Brook-Smith QC set the fine for £200k for the first offence, taking into account the guilty plea, with no separate penalty for the second offence. Costs of £26,343.26 were awarded plus a payment of £1k to the injured party Danny Osborne.

Mr Sprackling said McDonald's had been invited in for an interview under caution following a lengthy investigation. He said that during the investigation McDonald's disagreed with the EHO team’s terminology ‘directing traffic’ and wanted to use the phrase ‘interacting with customers and assisting traffic flow’.

The team then notified the primary authority that it planned to take enforcement action. The primary authority blocked four notifications relating to offences to young persons as it had given formal (assured) advice to the company on young persons. 

The remaining notifications were allowed as these were for offences that the primary authority had not given formal advice on.

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: ‘The safety of both our customers and people is our priority and we have apologised unreservedly to the employee in question for what took place.

‘This was an unusual car park layout and following the incident we immediately took temporary measures to alter the flow of traffic in the car park until planning permission could be sought for permanent alterations.

‘The permanent structural alterations made in September 2014 improved the layout of the car park meaning that none of our employees are required to assist with traffic management.’

  

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