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SA: KFC fined after worker falls into hot oil tank

Monday, 22 May, 2017 - 10:00
Industry news


A KFC outlet at South Australia’s Eastwood has been convicted and fined over an incident in which a young worker suffered burns to nine per cent of his body.

The Industrial Court convicted the company over the incident, which was its first work health and safety conviction, and imposed a penalty of $105,000 plus costs.

On 15 May 2015, while working as a cook, the 16-year-old worker suffered severe burns after stepping backwards and falling into a tank of hot oil which had been placed by another young worker on the floor behind him without warning him.

Following investigation by SafeWork SA, KFC was charged with offences under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) for failure to provide a safe working environment free of tripping hazards, failing to maintain a safe system of work by failing to provide and maintain a working procedure for filtering hot oil and failing to provide adequate information, training and supervision for the tasks of filtering, changing, removing or cleaning oil from a cooker.

Magistrate Lieschke said although KFC had identified the hazard of hot surfaces, it had failed to specifically address the hazard of hot oil and where the used oil tanks should be placed once they had been removed from its cookers.

“As a result, a 17-year-old trainer, a necessarily inexperienced youth, was left to work out a system for performing the task and instructing new employees, in this instance as to an unsafe procedure,” he said.

“I accept that KFC did have a system of training that included some online learning, on-the-job training and skills assessment, together with general safety awareness instructions for trainers. However, the system was clearly deficient, as admitted.”

Magistrate Lieschke reduced the initial penalty of $175,000 fine because of KFC’s early guilty plea, and handed down a penalty of $105,000, and reparations of $15,000 paid to the victim.

The case highlighted the need for business operators to identify foreseeable risks to health and safety and implement control measures to eliminate or minimise risks, said SafeWork SA acting executive director Dini Soulio.

“When young workers are involved business operators should be particularly mindful of ensuring they are aware of the hazards and risks in the workplace and are trained in safe systems of work.”