McDonald’s franchise owner fined $65,000 for employee oil spill

by Victoria Bruce09 Mar 2016
A McDonald’s franchisee has been slapped with $65,000 in fines and costs after a workplace accident left an employee with third-degree burns.
The 21-year-old employee Angela Buza was severely injured after slipping and falling onto a bucket of hot oil at the Warragul McDonald’s store in east Victoria in November 2013.
A co-worker had been transferring the burning hot oil from a deep fryer into buckets, a practice that had been occurring ever two weeks.
The store manager had not intervened and Buza slipped on some of the oil that had spilled on the floor, fell into a bucket of oil and suffered severe burns requiring multiple skin grafts.
Store operator Wilbridge Securities, which runs seven other McDonald’s outlets across Gippsland, pleaded guilty to a charge of failure of supervision brought about by the safety watchdog, Worksafe.
The McDonald’s case should serve as a lesson for other business operators to ensure that employees are safe at work and best practice safety methods are being used, says Francessca Lee, employment lawyer with McDonald Murholme.
“Employers should take notice that they have a clear duty to supervise their employees at work to ensure that there are no imminent risks to their health and safety,” Lee told HC Online.
“Employers should also frequently review their practices to ensure that the safest method is being adopted,” she says.
Although store operator Wilbridge Securities pleaded guilty to failing to supervise its employees, the court opted not to record a conviction.
Lee says for an employer to be charged with negligence, it must be shown that they were aware of the liability or risk caused but failed to do anything about it.
“It is possible that there was no conviction recorded as the employer was not yet aware of hazard in this instance,” she says.
Employers can be slapped with hefty fines for breaching the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, as maximum penalties for a breach of are now $1,075,050 for a body corporate and $215,010 for a natural person for individuals.
Similar stories:
Qantas to beef up workplace safety after worker falls from aircraft
Disciplining workers for a breach of workplace safety - to fire or not to fire?
Employers are going to get hurt, warns health and safety veteran
$1.1 million fine for employer after "very preventable death"


  • by 9/03/2016 11:32:10 AM

    This makes me so angry. I was involved in a eerily similar situation in Sep 2012 where I sustained third degree burns after stepping into 40 litres of boiling hot oil, just removed from the deep fryer and sitting in a public walk way.
    Skin grafts, numerous weeks in the burns ward where Dr's didn't know if I would ever walk again, I now have to endure life long complications Dr's appointments & medication due to my injury.
    My employer got away scot free with Work Cover telling me they had bigger more important cases to investigate and compensation for my injuries was next to nothing.
    Funny thing the employee continued the same illegal procedure of disposing hot oil months and months after my accident.
    This makes me sick to the stomach reading this, where is the justice?

  • by 10/03/2016 2:03:21 PM

    When I was 7 months pregnant I slipped outside a McDonalds store in wet weather, where there was no "slippery when wet" signage or non slip mats put down. I filled out a safety report and got no response, and haven't since. Ironically I was there for a meeting regarding McDonalds' Values, one of the top one being Safety, it is clear they are not an organisation which actually lives their Values.

Most Read