Report: Fast-Food Workers Suffer Many Burns, OSHA Complaints Pending

If you work in the fast-food industry, chances are, you have suffered a burn. Most likely, you endured more than one. fastfood1.jpg

That’s according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the National Council for Occupational Safety, which indicated 79 percent of the 1,430 workers polled indicated they had been burned on the job at some point in the last year. Of those, 73 percent (or 58 percent of the total) reported they had suffered multiple burns at some point in the last year.

What’s more, 87 percent of these workers indicated they had suffered some type of injury in the last 12 months, with 78 percent indicating they suffered multiple injuries (including burns).

Other common injuries reported were: Cuts, lifting injuries, injuries due to falls on slippery, wet or oily floors and personal assaults. Kitchen workers tended to be the most likely to suffer burn-related injuries, but even 61 percent of those who don’t work in the kitchen had suffered a work-related burn injury in the last year.

Burns most often occurred on the fryer (often while cleaning), but also on the grill, while handling hot liquids, using the oven and other hot equipment. Eleven percent of burns were caused by caustic cleaning chemicals.

The list of concern grows. While many fast-food workers did report dangers in their work environment, under-staffing often means those concerns aren’t promptly addressed. What’s more, in excess of one-third reported their employer does not have a properly-equipped and accessible first aid kit.

One worker told researchers that after suffering a severe burn on his arm, which later left a scar, he requested burn cream. His manager told him to put mayonnaise on it.

Under-staffing and pressure from managers to work more quickly than what would be considered safe are serious problems, according to 55 percent of those who responded.

Such oversights are unacceptable.

The report is underscored by a group of 28 workers at a large fast-food chain who have filed complaints with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration for work-related burns. The workers represent franchises in 19 different cities.

They allege the company’s safety standards were poorly enforced. In particular, workers say they were not properly trained and/or given adequate equipment to handle hot grease and oil. No grease aprons were provided, and the only safety equipment workers received was latex gloves – which were to keep the food – not workers – safe.

A corporate spokesman for the chain indicated it would review the allegations, but simultaneously downplayed them by saying they were part of an orchestrated effort to target the brand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the fast food industry is more perilous than most, with 3.5 injuries per 100 full time workers as of 2013, which is slightly higher than the national average of 3.3 for all industries. However, it’s worth noting the fast-food figure is likely even higher. The bureau relies on reports from employers, and those reports often tend to downplay the number of injuries.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Key Findings from a Survey on Fast Food Workers, March 16, 2015, Hart Research Associates on behalf of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

McDonald’s Work Injury Complaints Filed on Hot Grease, Risky Conditions, March 18, 2015, Claims Journal/Bloomberg

More Blog Entries:
Shepard v. Dept. of Corrections – Continuing Medical Care, March 20, 2015, Winston-Salem Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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