Burns In The Workplace

Burns to employees in the workplace can occur through many means; hot surfaces, chemicals, cooking oils, steam, radiant heat, fire, hot water etc.

With over 1.1million Australian workers, working in the retail or fast food industry, some of these workers could be put at risk of burns and scalds. The SDA is continually striving to ensure that employers eliminate the risks and where they cannot be eliminated altogether, to at least control them.

A recent (April 2017) court case, saw the owner of a KFC outlet fined $105,000 for failure to provide:

  • a safe working environment free of tripping hazards; and
  • a safe system of work by failure to provide and maintain a safe working procedure for filtering oil and cleaning a commercial cooker; and
  • adequate information, instruction, training and supervision for the tasks of filtering, changing, removing oil from a cooker. 

A 16 year old cook, suffered severe burns after stepping backwards, tripping and falling into a 51 litre capacity tank of hot oil. A SafeWork inspector measured the temperature of the oil at 108 degrees C. It would have been much hotter at the time of the accident two hours earlier.

The employer admitted guilt which was positive. However, in the course of the hearing the court identified many flaws in company safety policies and processes. In particular, the company relied on an internal computer program to provide information, instruction and training for employees. In particular, they had relied on this method of training, in the process that led to the accident.

Below is the NSW legislation outlining an employer’s responsibilities regarding information, training and instruction.


 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Clause 39 on the Provision of information, training and instruction) states that:

      …..(2)             A person conducting a business or undertaking, must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to:

(a)  the nature of the work carried out by the worker, and

(b)  the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided, and

(c)  the control measures implemented.


Maximum penalty:

(a)  in the case of an individual—$6,000, or

(b)  in the case of a body corporate—$30,000.


(3)                   The person must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the information, training and instruction provided under this clause is provided in a way that is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided.


 Maximum penalty:

 (a)  in the case of an individual—$6,000, or

(b)  in the case of a body corporate—$30,000.


Have you and your work mates been properly trained?

Your employer is responsible to make sure you have appropriate training for all the work that you do.


Is there a trained first aid person at your workplace when you work?

You should be told who the approved first aid person is on your shift and where the first aid kit is kept in your workplace.


Please watch out for yourself and others and if you see someone being unsafe, speak up. If you have raised a hazard at your workplace which has not been addressed or if you are fobbed off when you mention a safety issue, please contact the SDA Office on 4961 4694 or by email secretary@sdan,org.au


NB: The 16yr old returned to work after 6 weeks and this accident prompted KFC to undertake broader safety audits of all plant and equipment in all of their KFC stores.

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