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McDonald’s Workers Cite Unsafe Working Conditions

Workers in 19 cities are requesting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspect McDonald’s restaurants for unsafe working conditions. The workers allege that they have been seriously injured on the job due to unsafe working conditions, poor safety training, and understaffing by management. An OSHA spokesman confirmed the request and stated that the agency “investigate(s) all complaints and take(s) every complaint seriously.”

Unsafe Working Conditions Lead To Serious Injuries

One of the McDonald’s workers who cited the restaurant’s unsafe working conditions was a young woman who worked at a Chicago-area location. Brittney Berry told reporters that she was in a hurry to attend to her job tasks when she lost her footing on a grease-smeared floor. When she slipped, she sprained her wrist and her arm caught on a hot grill. She said the accident “almost burned my entire forearm.” She also alleged that her manager advised her to treat the burn by “put(ting) mustard on my arm,” rather than seeking medical treatment.

Kitchen Burns Among Results Of Unsafe Working Conditions

A survey conducted on behalf of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health found that kitchen burns were the most prevalent job site injury among fast food workers. The survey found that 78 percent of fast food workers had suffered burns on the job in the last year. The survey results also showed that 58 percent had been burned multiple times in the same time frame. A New Orleans worker claimed that unsafe working conditions led to severe burns while filtering a grease trap.

OSHA Investigates Unsafe Working Conditions Complaints

Both the prevalence and the viral nature of the workers’ complaints about unsafe working conditions have drawn the attention of OSHA inspectors. In 2013, the agency received 9,500 complaints and conducted 39,000 inspections of fast food restaurants. The agency will also determine if the corporation shares in its responsibility for its injured workers with its franchisees. If OSHA rules that the corporation and the franchisees are joint employers, the company could face lawsuits for its unsafe working conditions.

McDonald’s Blames Franchisees For Unsafe Working Conditions

A spokesperson for McDonald’s corporate office rebuts the complaints about unsafe working conditions by citing that its franchisees are independent owner-operators. The company’s policy has long been that franchise owners establish their own policies for worker safety and wages, in exchange for complying with corporate mandates on menu creation and restaurant layout. This policy lays the responsibility for unsafe working conditions on the franchisees.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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