Fast food chain KFC has been ordered to pay almost £1million after two of its employees suffered burns at branches on Teesside.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was ordered to pay a total of £950,000 in fines and £18,700 in costs at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.
The sentence follows a hearing at Teesside Magistrates Court in November, when the chain pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The court heard that on 14 July 2014, a 16-year-old employee at the business’s Teesside Park restaurant in Stockton suffered serious burns to his hands and arms after he was asked to remove hot gravy from a microwave while not wearing protective gloves.
In a separate incident on 1 December 2015, an employee at the chain’s Wellington Square branch in Stockton removed a tub of hot gravy from a microwave and it spilled, also causing serious burns to her body.
Environmental health officers from Stockton Borough Council visited the Wellington Square premises on 3 December 2015.
They found that staff were unable to locate any spare protective gloves, processes were not being managed and the business failed to ensure its own procedures were being followed.
KFC said training had been given to staff, and the chain invests £7.5million in health and safety measures every year.
Its lawyer told the court that procedures were in place, but were not followed, that such incidents are very rare, and the company had co-operated with all aspects of the investigation.
After the case, Rob Swain, chief operating officer for KFC UK and Ireland, said: “The safety of our team members is hugely important to us, so we were shocked by what happened.
"We have robust processes and procedures in place, but on these occasions, they were not followed and we have accepted the prosecution.”
Coun Steve Nelson, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for access, communities and community safety, added: “This is a huge fine that sends out a very clear message - that all food business operators have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and provide them with suitable training.
“Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited did not maintain this responsibility and as a result, two of its employees suffered extremely painful but preventable injuries."
“Environmental health officers conducted a very thorough investigation into these two very serious incidents, which has enabled us to bring this prosecution.
"Our officers are also available to offer advice to businesses and their employees on health and safety issues in the workplace.”