Souvlaki restaurant fined $75,000

A Greek takeaway restaurant has been fined $75,000 after a 22-year-old worker’s ponytail was caught in an unguarded rotisserie machine at a store in Melbourne’s northeast.

A Greek takeaway restaurant in Melbourne’s northeast faced a $75,000 fine after a 22-year-old employee’s ponytail became entangled in an unprotected rotisserie machine at the store.

Souvlaki GR in Melbourne’s Plenty, which is now closed, was sentenced in the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday, convicted of failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work and failing to provide adequate information, instruction and training.

The Greek takeaway restaurant has branches across Melbourne.

The Plenty branch was fined $75,000 and ordered to pay $5,682 in legal costs.

The conviction centres on a 2022 incident where a 22-year-old worker was reaching for a takeaway container lid on a high shelf when her ponytail became entangled in the turning cog at the top of the store’s rotisserie machine.

The alarmed young worker yelled out for help, and her co-worker jumped into action, activating the emergency stop button.

A hairdresser from a nearby salon had to cut away the worker’s entangled hair from the rotisserie machine.

The 22-year-old was taken to hospital, having suffered swelling to her head.

She lost a significant amount of hair and was off work for two weeks.

An investigation by Victoria’s WorkSafe revealed a training night held by the business after the incident was the first time the victim and her co-worker became aware of the existence of workplace policies and procedures and their location in the workplace.

In a statement, the health and safety regulator declared the souvlaki business had a responsibility to ensure employees wear personal protective equipment, namely hairnets and/or securing long hair in a bun, and not store takeaway containers on a shelf above the rotisserie machine.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Sam Jenkin said there were no excuses for failing to manage the obvious risks that led to the incident.

“A large cohort of workers within the hospitality industry are young and inexperienced and, at the very least, they deserve proper training, instruction and supervision to do their jobs safely,” Mr Jenkin said.

“Simple measures such as storing items away from danger areas and ensuring workers secured hair appropriately could have prevented a traumatic physical injury.”

Source: Sky News

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