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McDonald's feels the heat as employees file OSHA complaints

The most common workplace injuries sustained by fast-food workers in Tennessee and around the country are burns. According to a workplace safety survey, 79 percent of all fast-food employees sustained burn injuries while performing their duties in the twelve months that were covered, and many were burned repeatedly. Given the exposed nature of many of the cooking surfaces and the fast pace required of its employees during a rush, some commentators say McDonald's prizes speed and sales over employee safety and proper training.

A complaint recently filed with OSHA by a group of McDonald's employees in 19 cities alleges an environment fraught with workplace accident hazards and managerial indifference to employee safety. One worker who was burned on the arm stated that when the on-shift supervisor was asked for burn ointment, the manager told him to put mayonnaise on the injury instead of giving proper treatment. McDonald's denies the allegations, claiming the complaints are nothing more than an attempt to smear McDonald's' reputation and safety practices. Six McDonald's franchisees have been investigated by OSHA since the complaints were first aired.

Fast-food workplace injuries frequently go unreported by employees or management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes an official worker injury rate of 3.5 percent of all fast-food workers but cautions the actual number may be higher because the report only takes into account accident and injury reports officially filed by employers.

Workplace accident cases may begin with an attorney who is representing an injured victim examining the conditions leading to the accident. The attorney might look at the training protocols and presence of appropriate safety equipment for conducting potentially dangerous job duties. An injured worker can choose to file for workers' compensation benefits regardless of who was responsible for the accident.

Source: Bloomberg, "McDonald's Workers Get Burned: Complaints Filed on Hot Grease, Risky Conditions", Susan Berfield, March 16, 2015

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