KFC fined nearly £1m after two workers scalded by boiling hot gravy

KFC was fined almost £1m after workers were left with burns from hot gravy Credit: PA / Stockton Council

A fast food restaurant has been fined nearly £1m after a catalogue oferrors left two workers with agonising burns from boiling hot gravy.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) worker Joshua Arnold was scalded across his arms when a boiling tub of gravy tilted and spilled as he took it out of amicrowave oven.

The 16-year-old had paper towels put over his injuries and was sent tohospital alone in a taxi instead of an ambulance.

Teesside Crown Court heard how two bosses went to see how he was, then made a phone call to ask what first-aid they should administer.

Stephen Uttley, prosecuting, told the court how Joshua kept his arms underrunning water for 20 minutes and was told to put wet paper towels over hisinjuries.

The towels dried over the raw burns, and had to be peeled off in anagonising procedure at hospital – where he had been sent by himself.

KFC was fined almost £1m after workers were left with burn from hot gravy Credit: PA

After Joshua's accident, CCTV footage shows him at one point sitting on hefloor as he nurses his injuries, and colleagues dodging around him.

The accident at the Teesside Retail Park restaurant, Stockton, in July 2014was followed by a similar one at nearby Wellington Square, also in Stockton.

The court heard during the second incident, in December 2015, a moreexperienced worker, Heather Storer, was also burnt by red-hot gravy.

Mr Uttley said she suffered third-degree burns to her right arm, hands,chest and stomach as she lifted a tub from the microwave.

Judge Sean Morris heard how neither employee used gauntlets to protectthemselves from injury as the fast food company guidelines dictate.

Joshua, now 19 and working in a duty free shop at Stanstead Airport, hassettled on an out-of-court compensation package with KFC.

He said he had never been shown any guidance on how to carry out theheating-up task safely, and had done it just once before, supervised.

The court heard how there should have been two green gloves and a spare set at all restaurants, but there was just one at Teesside Park.

Mr Uttley told Judge Morris how at Wellington Square, CCTV footage and Ms Storer's statement indicate there were no gauntlets at all.

The company admitted two charges of failing in a duty of care to employees, and was ordered by Teesside Crown Court to pay a £800,000 fine as well as an £150,000 fine.

They were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £18,699.17 and a victimsurcharge of £120.00.

Sada Naqshbandi, defending, said: "I want to apologise to both, and express regret for their injuries and suffering."

In the UK, the company has 880 restaurants – 235 owned by them, and therest franchises – and has an annual turnover of around £450m.

Miss Naqshbandi said: "It is not a case where there has been cost-cuttingat the expense of safety, or where there has been concealment of any nature."

Miss Naqshbandi told the court how the company employs a specialist health and safety team, and there are now warning stickers in microwaves.

Ms Storer had worked at Wellington Square and a branch at Wolviston service station of the A19, and had seen many people not use gloves.

In a statement, she said: "There seems to be a complete inability to useany personal protection equipment. It doesn't seem to be there."

Imposing fines totalling £950,000, Judge Morris said: "It was lucky itwasn't worse. It was just luck. Kitchens are dangerous places.

"The two cases are similar in that burns occurred as a result of inadequatesupervision and the inadequate provision of safety equipment."

KFC was fined almost £1m after workers were left with burn from hot gravy Credit: PA

After the case Councillor Steve Nelson, from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s, said the fine sent out a 'huge message' to companies that they are responsible for their employees' safety.

KFC said they accepted the prosecution and insisted safety was a priority.

Rob Swain, Chief Operating Officer for KFC UK and Ireland, said: “The safety of our team members is hugely important to us, so we were shocked by what happened. We have robust processes and procedures in place, but on these occasions, they were not followed and we have accepted the prosecution."