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Fast Burn
Melinda burnt at fast food restaurant

Situation
Melinda is 21 years old and had only been employed by a fast food company for about five weeks.

Melinda suffered severe burns to her body from the exploding hot oil.

Melinda was cleaning a bacon fryer and steamer unit. One compartment of that unit (the fryer) held hot cooking oil, while the other (the steamer) contained hot water. Melinda, through inexperience, mistakenly believed that both sections of the unit contained hot oil. She endeavoured to locate the oil drum into which, as she knew, the hot oil was to be poured and later disposed of, but found that it was outside the premises with the back door locked. She then asked the cook and restaurant manager how to dispose of the oil in the circumstances and was told to "put it in the bain-marie", a metal bucket like utensil located on the floor of the area. Melinda then proceeded firstly to empty the hot water from the unit into the bain-marie (under the impression it was hot oil) and then to pour the hot oil from the unit into the same container. When the hot oil hit the water it started to explode.

Melinda suffered severe burns to her body from the exploding hot oil.Melinda suffered severe burns to her body from the exploding hot oil. She was admitted to hospital, where she received appropriate treatment, and was absent from work for more than four weeks as a result of her injuries.

Who was to blame?

Melinda?
Partly, as if she had been concentrating she should have noticed it was hot water. She was right to have asked for help.

Restaurant manager?
Partly, as they should have been supervising more carefully any hazardous activity.

The company?
YES - As they failed in their legal duties to have sufficient health and safety policies and procedures in the workplace.

What happened next?

Melinda
"In future I'll always concentrate fully on tasks and never mix things without checking what they are."

Restaurant Manager
"I've told the boss no end of times that we need better safety labelling and more staff so I can supervise and train properly."

The company
"We paid a big fine and have made a lot of changes to improve training, supervision and Health and Safety procedures."

The Magistrate
"I gave the company a £10,000 fine and instructed them to improve their Health and Safety procedures."


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