McDonalds prosecuted over acid injury to worker

Fast food giant McDonalds has paid out more than £20,000 after one of its employees was partially blinded by an acid-based cleaner.

According to Wandsworth Council, the court fine was the result of the first successful prosecution against McDonalds in the UK over an accident in the workplace.

The burger chain was taken to court by the council under safety at work laws after a member of staff suffered burns to his face and eyes that has left him with only around 55 per cent vision in his left eye. The injuries were caused when the man, who was working as a maintenance operative at the company’s Wandsworth Bridge drive-thru restaurant, used an acid-based drain cleaner to unblock a waste pipe.

Last month, South Western magistrates court heard that on June 23, 2008, the employee, with the full knowledge of his manager, bought a corrosive chemical drain cleaner from a nearby DIY store. The first attempt at using the sulphuric acid-based cleaner did not work and so the employee was given money by a manager to buy a second bottle. When this bottle was poured into the pipe, its contents blew back into the employee’s face and both his eyes. He was given first aid at the scene before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Following treatment he recovered almost all the vision in his right eye but much less in his left eye.

The council’s environment spokesman Councillor Sarah McDermott said: “Their member of staff was given money by his managers to buy a very hazardous product.

“No risk assessment was carried out to ensure this product was safe to use, he was not properly supervised while using it, he was not given any training to reduce the risk of an accident, nor was he provided with protective clothing. This was a serious lapse in the company’s internal procedures.”

A spokesman for McDonalds said: “We are very sorry for the eye injury incurred by our staff member. We regret that on this occasion our stringent safety procedures were not followed and we have taken steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

So, despite Lord Young’s pronouncement that retail environments are basically low risk and his recommendation to government that employers should be allowed to cut back on risk assessment, reality bites back in the shape of a partially blinded worker.

If highly successful ‘public spirited’ firms are committing such breaches of health and safety legislation, we fear for the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by small firms when our government seems hell-bent on allowing a laissez-faire attitude to health and safety issues to prevail.

If you have been hurt or injured at work please contact us for a completely free, no obligation review of your case on 0800 163 978.
 

20,000 people in the UK die early because of work

Simply being at work can be dangerous and it’s driving 20,000 Brits to an early grave every year, according to a study out yesterday.

The study, by the TUC, comes at a time when health & safety legislation in the UK is under close scrutiny from government appointee Lord Young, who has been asked by the PM to investigate the ‘compensation culture’.

The report claims that thousands of workers in the UK die early because of occupational cancers and lung disorders such as mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos. It also states that thousands of people are injured at work but their accidents go unnoticed. The Health & Safety Executive echoes the TUC study and estimates that a staggering 246,000 workplace injuries were unrecorded last year.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “If the level of HSE funding is cut the effects will be catastrophic.”

Firms such as Bonnar & Company see the effects of workplace accidents on a daily basis and we can only wonder at the rationale behind attempts to cut so-called red tape in the workplace. One person’s red tape is another person’s last line of defence against serious injury or death at work.

If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work or if you have developed an industrial illness, you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for no obligation expert legal advice from a personal injury solicitor.