Restaurant fined over hot oil burns

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

Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Frankston Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday 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 $4,409 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 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,” Dr 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.”

To manage the risks associated with decanting hot oil, employers should:

  • Eliminate the hazard by using fully enclosed deep fryer systems or portable oil filtering machines.
  • Ensure any equipment is operated, maintained and serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Where practicable, allow the products being used to cool down to 40 degrees Celsius or less before decanting.
  • Develop and implement safe work procedures, ensuring that they incorporate expected timeframes for the products being used to reach safe temperatures.
  • Provide employees with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as heat resistant gloves and aprons.
  • Ensure workers are provided with appropriate training, instruction, information and supervision.
  • Apply good housekeeping practices to ensure work and access areas are free of trip and slip hazards, level, well-lit and in good condition.
  • Ensure there is appropriate spill containment and clean up equipment available.

Source: WorkSafe Victoria

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