Recently in Scald Burns in Restaurant Workers Category

June 26, 2012

Customer Suffers Severe Burns in Fast Food Restaurant Accident and Files Lawsuit. Is There Legal Liability?

In late May, a man in Aurora, CO filed a lawsuit against Arby's restaurants after he said he suffered severe burns from steam or very hot water that sprayed from a urinal in the men's room at a local restaurant. The incident allegedly happened two years ago at the Arby's in Monument, CO, but the man filed the lawsuit just recently.

Kenneth Dejoie claims his genitals suffered severe burns while he was using a urinal inside the Arby's men's room. The five-page lawsuit was filed in El Paso County District Court, and states that Dejoie was "using the urinal in the men's restroom when the urinal caused a jet of steam to shoot forth and burn his genitals."

Dejoie claims that he reported the incident to an employee who said, "we have that bathroom problem again" and that "this happens when the sink in the kitchen is running."

Dejoie's lawyers said that he's trying to settle the case with Arby's outside of court and couldn't comment further. The lawsuit is seeking damages for financial losses and for not being able to have intimate relations with his wife.

The store's manager hadn't heard about the lawsuit when asked about it. A spokesperson for Arby's issued a statement saying, "We want to reassure our customers that we are committed to providing quality food in a safe and healthy environment. Since this matter is in litigation we've been advised by our attorney that we are unable to discuss it."

Dejoie's lawyer did not specify exactly how much they're hoping to settle for, or why it took two years for them to file the suit.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

February 16, 2012

Quick Thinking Minimizes Burn Injury After Scald Accident

In late January in a small town in Illinois, a mother and father helped to minimize the injury to their nine-year-old daughter from a burn accident, by knowing what to do and acting quickly.

What would you do if your child got scalded by boiling hot water, or if you saw a restaurant worker scalded by hot liquid or food? Doctors say this is something that parents and restaurants employees alike should know, because these scalding accidents happens a lot.

The young girl in this case did sustain second degree burns and third degree burns, and was still in considerable plain a few weeks after the burn accident. But without her parents' fast actions, the girl probably would have had much worse injuries--which could have required skin graft surgery to repair damaged skin.

The girl was eating with her family at a restaurant when a pot of steaming hot water for tea that was placed on the table turned over. When the boiling water spilled into the girl's lap, it burned right through her clothes and skin to the inner layers of the dermis, where nerves and blood vessels are. "I started to feel like I was on fire, and I just started to scream," the girl said afterward.

First, the girl's parents pulled her pants off to cool her down. "I didn't care that we were in the middle of a restaurant--they had to come off," said her father. "At that point, though, I could already feel some of the skin blistering."

Her mother, a nurse, ran to the kitchen and grabbed ice and cold water. "I grabbed an iced tea pitcher and filled it with water, and sat her down with the ice and held her and poured the ice and the water, continually dumping some of it into her lap," the mother said. "You have to stop the burning process. Even though the top layer of skin could be dry, the burning is still going in the skin layers below. If you can stop that deeper burning, you can stop a lot of the injury damage."

The girl's doctor at the burn center at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL said that was good thinking. "To try to cool down a burn injury is important. Particularly when a victim has clothing that has hot liquid on it, that heat is still transferring heat to the skin," he said.

A few weeks later, the girl is well enough to play board games to ease her pain. "It makes me forget that I got burned," she says. In addition, some virtual reality video games have been proven to help burn victims lessen their pain by taking their minds of of their burn injuries for minutes or hours at a time, even when pain medication does not help.

The girl's doctor says that 40 percent of Loyola's burn unit patients are children. Most of them were burned with hot water or food. This is why parents must know what to do in the event their child suffers a burn accident, and why restaurant workers should know as well.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

October 14, 2011

Burns and Smoke Inhalation from Kitchen Fires Can Be Deadly--and Preventable

In Las Vegas in early October, a casino employee was lucky to have survived after suffering smoke inhalation after a fire started inside his restaurant's grease duct.

Firefighters quickly doused the fire a little before 9 a.m. on a Sunday at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort, and damage was confined to a small mechanical room. And the local fire chief credited the design of the duct system for containing the fire. The Wynn resort is about 10 years old, so it has a very modern design that helps with fire prevention so that a small fire cannot spread easily and become a large fire that threatens any more lives.

On the other hand, many older restaurants around the country are not designed in the same way. As a result, they have a much higher chance of being engulfed in a rapidly-spreading fire if their grease ducts and air ducts are not cleaned regularly. Restaurant managers have an obligation to make sure this cleaning happens enough so that there is only a small chance of a grease fire growing out of control.

Here's another lesson to be learned from this story: Restaurant patrons should always locate the fire exits in a restaurant before they sit down at a table. Even a few seconds can make a difference between life and death when evacuating from a fire, so know where to go if a fire does break out.

Fortunately, once the fire was discovered in the back of the Stratta restaurant at Wynn Resort, employees evacuated customers from their breakfast tables, and also from the adjacent casino areas, while firefighters vented smoke through a hotel skylight.

Things do not always turn out so well with kitchen fires, though. In Kansas City recently, a restaurant employee turned out to be not as lucky as the one in Las Vegas. Now, he has finally come home from the hospital to continue healing after he suffered severe burns that came from hot grease.

Gary Cifuentes, 22 years old, almost never complained while in the hospital for over a month, receiving painful treatments for burns that covered more than 50 percent of his body. Doctors released him from the burn center at the University of Kansas Hospital in early October. "The truth of it," he said about his survival, "is that it has been a miracle."

In late August, the restaurant worker was critically burned by a vat of grease that spilled on him when a car slammed into the side of the restaurant he worked at in Olathe, KS.

Cifuentes spoke to media through an interpreter Friday just before his release to stay with family in Kansas City, KS. He spoke from a wheelchair, his arms and hands in special wraps. There will be many more painful dressing changes and trips to the hospital, but doctors expect him to make a full recovery. "They tell me to keep working hard and keep moving forward," he says. He also thanked God for being alive, thanked medical staff and thanked family and friends, who almost never left his side in the hospital. Kansas workers' compensation is paying for his care, but it is unclear whether the fund will cover all of the costs.

Again, the lesson here is this: Kitchens are among the most common places for people to suffer severe burns and smoke inhalation. Therefore, everyone should think ahead of time and take precautions when in the kitchen, to avoid being injured.

February 17, 2011

Preventing Fires and Severe Burns When in the Kitchen


Tom Kiurski is a lieutenant, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for the Livonia, Michigan Fire & Rescue. He's written a book, "Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators" as a guide for local fire departments to bring the safety message to their communities. Here's a summary of his views on preventing kitchen fires and third-degree burns:

Under normal circumstances, most folks would not throw a kitchen cloth onto a burning stove, or help spread a fire from a pan to the cabinets, or add oxygen to a fire so that it flares up faster. Yet these things happens much too often because of panic. So let's take a look at how we can use safety sense in the kitchen to reduce the of having an unwanted fire.

Cooking is the leading cause of fires and civilian fire injuries in the United States. Two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove--and usually involve food, grease, rags, bags, cabinets, curtains, or other household items getting ignited.

Consider this statistic: Each year, there are more than 110,000 home fires involving cooking equipment! These cooking fires result in about 350 civilian deaths, 4,200 civilian injuries and about $453 million in property damage per year. Those numbers are just from the fires that were reported to authorities--and those statistics do not include the number of firefighters who are injured or killed trying to fight these fires.

The main reason cited for kitchen fires is not paying attention. Even leaving the kitchen for a moment or two with the stove on can cause plenty of danger and potential damage and injury. As we all know, a person's attention at home is often diverted for short periods by the children, the doorbell, a phone, radio, television, or a pet. Other times, people leave the kitchen and completely forget that they've started cooking! Once something gets overcooked, though, a fire can start and easily spread beyond the initial spot to other flammable or combustible products nearby, such as curtains and cabinets, and even other ingredients left on the counter.

Here are some safety tips for you to keep in mind when cooking:

• Never leave stove-top cooking unattended, and frequently monitor any food in the oven.
• Wear short sleeves or tight-fitting clothes--loose clothing can easily come into contact with hot objects or the stove flame. In an instant, you could be on fire!
• If clothing does catch fire, immediately stop, drop and roll back and forth over the flames to put them out. Do not run!
• Keep kids away from the cooking area by setting up a 3-foot buffer around the stove that kids should avoid. Keep the kids close enough to watch, but far away from hot objects.
• Always use oven mitts when handling hot cooking items, and don't rush when handling hot objects.
• Don't cook when you are tired, or if you have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
• If a pan or pot of food catches fire, DO NOT use water. Slide a lid over the top of the pan or pot and shut off the heat to the burner. The lid will keep oxygen out and snuff out the fire.
• If there is a fire in the oven, shut off the heat to the unit and keep the door closed to starve the fire of oxygen.

Once you do these things, move to another room or outside the house and call the local fire department. You simply do not know if the situation will become one that you cannot handle on your own, so play it safe and call the professionals.

February 15, 2011

Cooking-Related Burns are Very Common--and Very Preventable!

For most people, food is a truly enjoyable part of life. But when people are careless with hot food, injuries can happen--even 3rd degree burns!

For instance, just last week a couple filed suit in the California courts against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, claiming their young son suffered "severe burns" as a result of scalding-hot nacho cheese served to them. In the suit, the parents of a four-year-old boy said they were eating dinner at Disney World in Orlando last March when the cheese was spilled on their son's face. The suit says that "the cheese was scalding hot and resulted in severe burns" to the child, and that Disney served the cheese "negligently and carelessly" and made "no effort" to regulate its temperature.

What's more, the suit says the child suffered "permanent scarring, pain and suffering" as a result of the burns, and his parents suffered "emotional distress" from witnessing his agony. The family asked the court for the medical and legal costs incurred, as well as punitive damages.

This story brought back a particularly painful memory for me. When I was five years old, I reached for a slice of pizza that was served to me on a paper plate. But when I picked up the slice and brought it towards my mouth, the oil was so hot that the cheese slid right off the pizza and landed on the inside of my left thigh. Unfortunately, I was wearing shorts, and the pain of the hot cheese was truly unbelievable. I jumped up and shook the cheese off my leg, but by that time blisters had started forming on the inside of my thigh. While the second-degree burns on my leg did heal and the pain subsided after about two weeks, I am still somewhat afraid to this day of the various heat sources in a kitchen setting.

It seems that my fears are not irrational: A Pittsburgh firefighter suffered third-degree burns last week as he responded to a house fire that started in the kitchen. Firefighters arrived at the house and found smoke billowing from a window because of burned food. One firefighter came in contact with a pot on the stove that contained grease, which found its way into a small opening between his heavy coat and his gloves and ran onto his arms. The firefighter was transported to a local hospital and treated for a truly terrible injury: third-degree burns.

Cooking is the leading cause of fires and civilian fire injuries in the United States. So you simply cannot be careless in the kitchen when it comes to protecting against accidental fires and being burned by very hot ingredients, pots, pans, and utensils. In this Thursday's blog, we will address the various safety precautions you can take in the kitchen. But we'll give you the first lesson today: Never rush when moving around the kitchen--you will make it much too easy for an accident to happen!

January 21, 2011

Scald Burns in Restaurant Workers (part II)

What employers can do to reduce the risk of scaled burn injury:

  • Place microwaves at a safe height within easy reach for all users to avoid spills. The face of the person using the microwave should always be higher than the front of the door.
  • Provide splash screens for frying foods.
  • Maintain equipment to ensure that lids are tight fitting; handles are securely attached on vessels that contain hot liquids.
  • Ensure that workers are trained on the hazards of hot liquids and safe work practice. Supervisors should encourage and when necessary enforce safety rules.
  • Designate someone each shift to be responsible for immediately cleaning up spills.
  • Ensure someone on each shift knows and can use first aid procedures for managing burns.
  • Always practice good housekeeping, keep floors clean of liquids and other debris. Slips, trips and falls are responsible for almost a third of all restaurant scald burns.
  • Use non slip matting, no- skid waxes and coat floors with grit, especially in areas where cooking oils and other liquids may spill.
What employees can do to reduce the risk of a scald burn injury:

The most important things you can do is to make sure you are aware of how to assess burn hazards in your workplace and how you can reduce your risk of being burned or burning one of your co-workers. Good communication between co-workers, understanding and following all of the safety procedures at your workplace can help to reduce your risk of serious potentially life altering injury from a scaled burn.

  • If manually transferring hot liquids ensure the liquid is at a safe level for carrying (1/2 full), use splash guards, or secure lids for all vessels containing hot liquids.
  • If transferring hot liquids using a rolling cart, ensure the vessel is secure on the cart so that sudden stops or jarring will not allow the container to tip or fall.
  • Carefully handle micro waved liquids, assume they are hot. Micro waved foods and liquids can reach temperatures greater than boiling without the appearance of bubbling.
  • Always practice good housekeeping, keep floors clean of liquids and other debris. Slips, trips and falls are responsible for one in three restaurant scald burns.
  • Use hot pads, potholders, or appropriate size gloves or mitts when appropriate.
  • Wear protective shoes; open toed shoes, sandals or boots, where hot oil can pool, are not appropriate. Also wear shoes with slip-resistant soles to avoid slipping or falling.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
January 17, 2011

Scald Burns in Restaurant Workers (part I)

Scaled burns are one of the most common causes of burns in restaurants. They occur when the skin comes into contact with hot liquids or steam. Scalds with hot oil are generally more severe than those from hot water because oil heats to higher temperatures than water and oil is thicker so it may remain on the skin for a longer period of time. Scalds from water are very frequent in the restaurant industry and can cause third degree burns, (see also third degree burns part II) almost instantaneously if the water is boiling or simmering.

Job site hazards:

  • Slip or trip hazards can cause workers to stumble or fall. Slips, trips and falls are common events leading to restaurant worker burns. Many serious burns occur when employees slip and reach to steady themselves. This action often knocks hot liquids off of counters/stovetops on to the worker.
  • Carrying full containers of hot liquids is very dangerous to the employee carrying the container and to those working around them.
  • Cooking with boiling water, hot oil or other hot liquids puts you at risk of being burned from splashes or spills. Follow all safety procedures when cooking using hot liquids,
  • Working with or around pressurized cooking equipment is also dangerous. If pressurized equipment is not properly maintained or used, it can explode causing serious steam injuries.
  • Steam from microwaves can reach temperatures greater than 200 degrees rapidly in covered containers. Puncture plastic wrap or use vented containers to allow steam to escape while cooking in the microwave, or wait at least one minute before removing the cover.
  • Cleaning deep fryers or around deep fryers are common tasks associated with burn injuries in restaurants. Extreme caution should be used when cleaning the deep fryer and surrounding kitchen area.
Scaled burns are preventable and both the employers and the employees can reduce the risk of these injuries. This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.