Restaurant fined $35,000 over hot oil burn injuries

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 2 May, 2023 - 12:30
Incidents & prosecutions

The operator of The Cheeky Squire restaurant in Frankston Victoria has been convicted and fined $35,000 after two workers were injured in a hot oil spill.

Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group was sentenced in the Frankston Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment and failing to notify WorkSafe immediately after an incident.

The company was also ordered to pay $4409 in costs.

In January 2021, a chef was transferring oil from deep fryers to a waste facility at the back of the restaurant’s kitchen when she tripped over a box on the floor.

Hot oil from an open pot the chef was carrying spilled onto another chef standing nearby, causing second-degree burns to his legs and minor burns to his back. He was taken to hospital where he underwent skin graft surgery before being released two weeks later.

The chef carrying the pot of oil also suffered minor burns to various parts of her body.

WorkSafe was only notified of the incident the following day.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed the use of pots to move hot oil was not usual practice but had been ongoing for two months because a portable filtration system was not working.

The chef carrying the pot was employed four weeks prior to the incident and was unaware that the oil filtration machine existed.

The court found it was reasonably practicable for Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group to have provided a safe system of work for the oil transfer process and to have provided supervision to ensure workers undertook the task safely and without risks to health.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Narelle Beer, said the incident was a reminder that workplace safety must be made a priority each and every day.

“This employer had an appropriate safe work procedure in place to control the safety risk but it wasn’t being followed because a crucial piece of equipment was broken,” Beer said.

“When part of a safe work system is no longer effective, it’s critically important that duty holders introduce further control measures to ensure their workers remain protected.”