The 19-year-olds were reportedly working in the kitchen, frying chicken, when the explosion occurred. It’s not clear what caused the malfunction, but the result was hot grease was sprayed everywhere. Both suffered massive injuries. Taken to a specialty burn center in Georgia, one teen suffered burns on 70 percent of his body, while the other suffered burns on 17 percent of his body.
Incidents involving injury to fast-food workers – especially teens – are nothing new. But it’s deeply troubling that they are still happening, considering that we know the source of most injuries and these incidents are largely preventable.
A survey conducted last year by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) revealed a whopping 87 percent of fast-food workers suffered some kind of injury in the past year, and there were 78 percent who suffered multiple injuries.
Fully four out of five workers said they had been burned had some point in the last year, and nearly two-thirds of those suffered multiple burns. Although kitchen workers are the most vulnerable to these types of injuries, they certainly aren’t the only ones. In fact, even of those workers who don’t do any kind of food preparation – the cashiers, the manager, etc. – more than 60 percent have suffered burns in the last year.
Why does it happen so often?
More than half of workers say they are under pressure form their managers to work more quickly. More than a third say there aren’t enough workers to safely handle the job. A quarter of workers said the equipment they had to work with was missing or damaged. Fryers caused most burn injuries in fast-food restaurants, but so did grills, hot liquids, ovens, hot equipment and caustic cleaning materials.
But even if an employer is negligent, workers generally can’t file a lawsuit against the company. Typically, their only option is workers’ compensation benefits. Even getting that can be difficult sometimes.
In a situation like this, where there is an apparent malfunction of equipment, there may be an opportunity for a third-party liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributor. If there is evidence the equipment was poorly or improperly repaired, the repair company could also potentially be held responsible to pay damages.
The restaurant in this case out of Forest City issued a statement indicating it adheres to strict operating procedures to keep workers safe. The company is conducting an investigation into the incident.
The two teens were described by their co-workers as “model employees.” One worker indicated there was a previous problem with the very same cooker. It’s not clear whether the company properly addressed those problems. If a repair was undertaken but not done properly, the repair company could face liability.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there are 2.5 million teenagers who work in the restaurant industry, mostly in fast-food establishments. Every year, about 45,000 teens suffer work-related fast-food restaurant injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
Prescription Opioid Use a Threat to Worker Safety, Feb. 4, 2016, Asheville Work Injury Lawyer Blog