Articles Posted in Scald Burns in Restaurant Workers

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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