Journalist, SHP Online

January 24, 2017

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KFC to pay almost £1m after two employees suffer burns

Fast food restaurant chain KFC has been ordered to pay almost £1million after two of its employees suffered burns injuries at two Stockton Borough branches.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was fined £950,000 and ordered to pay £18,700 in costs at Teesside Crown Court following the incidents in July 2014 and December 2015.

Two separate burns

The court heard that on 14 July 2014, a 16-year-old employee at the business’s Teesside Park restaurant suffered serious burns to his hands and arms after he was asked to remove hot gravy from a microwave while he was not wearing protective gloves.

In a separate incident on 1 December 2015, an employee at the chain’s Wellington Square branch in Stockton removed a tub of hot gravy from a microwave and it spilled, also causing serious burns to her body.

Investigation

Environmental Health officers from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council visited the Wellington Square premises on 3 December 2015. They found that staff at the restaurant were unable to locate any spare protective gloves, processes were not being managed and the business failed to ensure that their own procedures were being followed.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “This is a huge fine that sends out a very clear message that all food business operators have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and provide them with suitable training.

“Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited did not maintain this responsibility and as a result, two of its employees suffered extremely painful but preventable injuries.

“Environmental Health officers conducted a very thorough investigation into these two very serious incidents, which has enabled us to bring this prosecution. Our officers are also available to offer advice to businesses and their employees on health and safety issues in the workplace.”

Sentencing

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was ordered to pay a total of £950,000 in fines and £18,700 in costs at Teesside Crown Court following the incidents in July 2014 and December 2015.

The sentence follows an earlier hearing at Teesside Magistrates Court on 23 November 2016, when the chain pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Mitigation

In mitigation Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited representatives said that training had been given to staff and the chain invests £7.5million in health and safety measures every year. They added that procedures were in place but were not followed, that such incidents are very rare, and that they had cooperated with all aspects of the investigation.

Chief operating officer Rob Swain said: “The safety of our team members is hugely important to us, so we were shocked by what happened.

“We have robust processes and procedures in place, but on these occasions, they were not followed and we have accepted the prosecution.”

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Lee Jones
Lee Jones

On the face of it, this is a significant fine for would could appear to be a relatively ‘simple’ incident – handling very hot gravy. However, taking the above information in context, the only cause which would appear to be relevant [or at least referred to], would be that Environmental Health “found that staff at the restaurant were unable to locate any spare protective gloves”. The following sentence “processes were not being managed and the business failed to ensure that their own procedures were being followed”, seems to be quite ‘generic’. This appears to be another incident where human behaviour… Read more »

peter Tanczos
peter Tanczos

Be careful Lee, you’re starting to sound like one of those employers who gives this kind of pre-amble before showing you round their enterprise that has absolutely zero health & safety provision and whose default position for accident investigation is to blame and sack the employee and just how long is an EHO supposed to wait while employees (who should be using these gloves on a regular basis and therefore know where the spares are)try to locate a spare pair? It’s no good (presumably) paying lots of money to write procedures that sit in a glossy folder collecting dust while… Read more »