This case involves a twenty-year-old employee at a fast food restaurant. The employee was required to clean the exhaust filters that were located approximately 5 feet above a deep fryer. The employee placed a wooden cover over three of the fryer’s four bins, all four of which contained hot grease. The employee stood on a chair that she had placed on the wooden covers to reach and remove the filters. The employee fell from the chair and she suffered second-degree and third-degree burns over 10% of her body when her arm and shoulder were immersed in the hot grease that was in the fourth bin. She was hospitalized for four days and later had to have plastic surgery for scarring that resulted from the burns. The employee sued the restaurant for negligence.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Can a fast food restaurant employee sue the restaurant if she suffers burns and scarring from cleaning the exhaust filters above a deep fryer?
Expert Witness Response
All employers are required to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This includes properly training employees on safety procedures and setting and monitoring safety standards in the workplace. Fast food workers are at a great risk of sustaining burn injuries because they must work with commercial deep fryers. In general, fast food workers should avoid climbing on top of deep fryers and should make sure that grease is cool before they clean the exhaust filters above deep fryers. In this case, the employer was probably negligent because the employee was not properly trained on the procedures for cleaning the exhaust filters. The employer probably had a duty to make sure that the employee knew to use a ladder or step stool to reach the exhaust filters. Also, the employee should have been properly trained to only attempt to clean the exhaust filters after the grease in the bins was cool and was securely covered. The employer should also have trained the employee not to stand on the unstable surface of the wooden cover that she put over the three bins. Since the employer in this case failed to properly train and monitor the employee in procedures for cleaning the exhaust filters, they were probably negligent in this case.