$60,000 KFC franchisee fine after worker suffers third-degree burns

By Nick Hall | 16 Apr 2019 View comments

A KFC franchisee in NSW has copped a $60,000 fine after a kitchen worker suffered serious burns to his leg. The KFC franchisee fine has prompted warnings from SafeWork NSW to employers about the importance of providing safe working conditions.

In 2016, the 20-year old employee was using a ladder to clean the area above open hot oil containers. However, an electricity blackout caused him to slip and fall. The Coffs Harbour employee suffered third-degree burns and subsequently underwent a skin graft.

The KFC franchisee fine was handed down to QSR Pty Ltd under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

KFC franchisee fine implications

Tony Williams, executive director of SafeWork operations said the incident highlighted the vulnerability of young workers in fast food restaurants.

“The incident occurred at a workplace with a number of young and vulnerable workers who have limited work experience and may not understand the risks of what they are doing or know how to protect themselves from injury,” Williams said.

“By law, managers or supervisors of young workers have a legal obligation to protect young workers from incidents such as this which are entirely preventable.”

The District Court of NSW agreed, finding that the cooker lids should have been closed and the equipment switched off.

“The offender did not adequately implement the safe work procedure for the task of cleaning HVAC system, including not providing adequate training and instruction to the workers…as to the correct procedure to be followed when performing the task,” Judge Strathdee told the court.

“As a result of the offender’s failures, workers were exposed to a risk of death or serious injury.”

Despite the franchisee’s negligence, Judge Strathdee acknowledged that measures had been taken and full cooperation with SafeWork had been observed.

“I accept that the offender was aware of its obligations under the WHS Act and has made significant efforts to comply with those obligations, however they were not enough,” Judge Strathdee told the court.

“I accept that the offender has demonstrated remorse and contrition, and has taken the many steps since the incident to ensure the safety of its workers.”

QSR Pty Ltd has the right to lodge an appeal against the District Court decision.