Health and safety complaints filed against McDonald's
The Guardian online reported that McDonald's workers in the US had filed 28 health and safety complaints against the company in 19 cities over the past two weeks.
The complaints, which were filed with the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as state safety and health authorities, allege that many of the injuries occurred because of understaffing and the pressure to work fast. After such accidents occurred, management often lacked first-aid supplies to treat the injuries and instead often told the workers to treat their burns with condiments.
McDonald’s said in a statement that it is “committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand US restaurants” and will review the allegations. A McDonald’s spokeswoman, Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, said: “It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage.”
The complaints were filed with the assistance of labour organising group Fight for $15, which was pushing for a higher minimum wage and union representation for fast-food workers.
Martisse Campbell who worked at McDonald’s in Philadelphia said he was often tasked with emptying the grease traps at his store. “One of my coworkers and I have to empty the grease trap without protective gear, and since we were never given the proper equipment or training, we just dump the hot grease into a plastic bag in a box of ice,” said Campbell. “Once, my coworker got badly burned, and our manager told him: ‘Put mayonnaise on it, you’ll be good.’”
Campbell also burnt his hand with boiling grease from a fryer. Both he and Berry argue that accidents such as these were “exactly why workers at McDonald’s need union rights”.
Organising director of Fight for $15, Kendall Fells, claims that McDonald's closely monitors all aspects of its franchisees’ operations, but when it comes to health and safety, it looks the other way with a “wink and a nod”
“McDonald’s has the power to protect its employees, but it’s just not doing it,” said Fells.
Copies of the complaints revealed that in each of the complaints, workers had requested inspections of their worksite. Findings of the investigations triggered by such complaints are usually released within six months.
The workers say that they want the fast-food giant to take responsibility for the dangers in its restaurants, from the pressure to clean the fryer while the oil is hot and the lack of protective gear, to basics like greasy and wet floors and missing or empty first-aid kits.
On Tuesday, fast-food workers plan to hold protests at McDonald’s stores to demand that the company take responsibility for these dangers. The 19 cities where complaints have been filed include Kansas City, Missouri; New York City; New Orleans and Philadelphia.
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