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McDonald's workers file complaints over burns

Illinois residents may find it interesting that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating 28 complaints filed by McDonald's employees who claim chronic understaffing and lack of protective gear at the fast-food chain has led to burns. The allegations, which were made public by the Service Employees International Union on March 16, involve McDonald's locations in 19 U.S. cities.

According to the complaints, McDonald's did not provide protective gear to its employees, first-aid kits were not properly maintained, and managers were often woefully inept at providing burn care, sometimes suggesting workers apply mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise to their wounds. Workers also allege that a computer system measuring productivity at the fast-food chain results in fewer workers who are pressured into working faster, which leads to injuries.

The allegations are supported by a survey of over 1400 U.S. fast-food workers conducted by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. In the poll, 79 percent of workers reported being burned on the job with 58 percent reporting multiple burn injuries. Of the workers who were burned, 33 percent said their managers told them to use condiments for treatment instead of burn cream. With COSH reporting that approximately 3.6 million people are employed by the fast-food industry, these statistics suggest around 2 million fast-food workers have suffered burns in the workplace.

OSHA has investigated six of the McDonald's locations named in the complaints. More investigations are pending.

Most workplace injuries are covered by an employer's workers' compensation insurance policy. If a worker is burned on the job, they may file a benefits claim seeking compensation for medical expenses and a portion of any wages lost. A worker may find the guidance of an attorney helpful as they prepare their claim.

Source: RT News, "'Put mustard on it': McDonald's workers sue over workplace burns," March 16, 2015

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