Fast Food Worker Injury Attorneys in Boston
Fast-food workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in Boston, but they face many on-the-job dangers. And when these workers cannot clock in because of a work injury, they may face severe financial hardship.
If you are a fast-food worker who has suffered a serious injury in a work accident, Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers can help. We believe that all workers deserve a safe working environment and will fight for your right to compensation when that is not the case.
Our work injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis. As a result, there are no fees or costs until we recover money for you. This arrangement allows us to provide top-level legal services to you and any other injured parties, regardless of how much money you make.Workers' Compensation for Injured Fast-Food Workers
Some Boston fast-food workers may not know that they are entitled to workers' compensation benefits if they have suffered an injury in a work accident. Compensable injuries include sudden injuries like broken bones, burns, and illnesses like toxic exposure that often develop over time. Even if you are entirely or partially to blame for your work injury, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits in Massachusetts.
Workers' compensation covers your medical bills and provides income when you cannot make money because of your injuries. However, your doctor must keep you out of work for at least five days to collect lost wage benefits due to your work injury.
A work accident attorney can help you file a workers' compensation claim following an on-the-job accident. Also, if you have applied for workers' compensation benefits and have been denied, an attorney can help you file an appeal.
You can read more about Massachusetts' workers' compensation system here.Common Fast-Food Worker Accidents in Massachusetts
Every workplace has its dangers, and fast-food restaurants are no exception. Here are some of the common hazards lurking in these takeout joints:
Slippery floors: Floors slick with grease, oil, soda, or water tracked in from outside on a rainy or snowy day are slip-and-fall hazards. When fast-food restaurants are busy, these spills may be ignored, posing a threat to both employees and customers. While many slip-and-fall incidents result in minor injuries, others can cause catastrophic injuries such as head trauma, broken bones, and brain injuries.
Hot oil and cooking equipment: Workers can suffer burns from grills, fry vats, bun steamers, and other cooking equipment. The temperature of oil in a fry vat is about 400 degrees. Workers tasked with cleaning these vats and changing the oil in them can suffer severe and debilitating burns.
Sharp blades and utensils: Fast-food workers use knives, slicers, and other sharp cooking utensils when preparing and serving food. Blades such as those in ice cream and milkshake machines can cause serious injury. It is common for restaurant workers to cut themselves when cleaning or disassembling equipment with sharp blades, especially when they have not received training on how to do so safely. These machines should always be unplugged before they are cleaned or taken apart, and they should have safety guards.
Electrical risks: Fast-food workers can suffer electrical shocks or be electrocuted when equipment is old and in disrepair. Electrical cords and extension cords that are worn or frayed pose a danger to workers, as do improperly wired or grounded outlets.
Chemical exposure: Employees who work with or around cleaning solutions or other dangerous chemicals are at risk of suffering toxic exposure injuries. Chemicals should be labeled appropriately, and employees should receive instructions on their safe use.
Heavy lifting: As part of their job duties, fast-food workers often take out the trash, unload supplies from a truck, or handle heavy boxes. Heavy lifting at work can cause many injuries, including back, neck, hand, or shoulder injuries and others.
Violent crimes: Fast-food employees face a disproportionate amount of violence in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace violence includes physical assault, threatening behavior, and verbal abuse in a work setting. Fast-food restaurants typically operate late at night, which means they are more likely to be the site of robberies and other crimes. Staff should receive training on safety protocols such as cash-handling procedures, and stores should be well-lit and have panic buttons and safe drive-thru windows to prevent or mitigate violent attacks. In one survey, 12% of respondents said they had been assaulted at the fast-food business where they worked the previous year.
In that same survey, 87% said they had been injured at least once in the previous year, with 79% reporting burn injuries and 67% lacerations.
Fast-food fry cooks, cashiers, janitors, dishwashers, and managers all face these workplace dangers, especially since most are jacks-of-all-trades and may find themselves behind the grill one day and manning the drive-thru the next. Fast-casual restaurant workers, food truck workers, and baristas also face these risks.
Many teens score their first jobs at fast-food restaurants like McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, and Burger King. (For the record, there are 249 McDonald's in Massachusetts and 58 Dunkin's in Boston alone.)
After a work accident, these inexperienced and often young workers may be afraid to speak up and report the incident to a manager for fear of getting in trouble or being fired. However, workers should report all accidents and injuries as soon as they happen. If not, the employer could claim that the accident never happened or that the employee did not sustain an injury at work.Fast-Food Worker Injuries in Massachusetts
These are some of the more common fast-food worker injuries that occur in Massachusetts fast-food restaurants:
- Overexertion injuries, including sprains and strains
- Hand and wrist injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome
- Broken bones
Hot oil used to cook French fries, fried chicken, and other fast-food staples can cause second and third-degree burns. A second-degree burn can affect the epidermis and the second layer of skin, known as the dermis. These burns can cause the skin to blister and often result in scarring. A third-degree burn penetrates the layer of skin under the dermis and destroys nerves. These burns often appear white or charred and are very painful. When wounds do not receive proper care, they can become infected.
The bottom line is that fast-food restaurants are dangerous places to work. The quick pace of these restaurants can lead to injuries. (They are not called "fast" for nothing.) During a lunch or dinner rush, managers may push employees to perform tasks faster than what is considered safe. Workers pushed to their physical limits are probably not thinking about safety protocols.
In addition, many fast-food establishments are ill-prepared for workplace accidents. For example, they may not have first-aid kits, or they may be missing critical first-aid supplies. In addition, employees may not have received training on what to do when an accident happens or given safety gear.How to Prevent Fast-Food Worker Injuries
On a positive note, there are some steps that fast-food restaurants and their managers can take to keep their premises safe and prevent worker injuries:
Keep floors clean and dry: Managers should do walk-throughs on a set schedule to ensure that floors are clean and dry and that spills have been cleaned up. This includes grease spills in the grill area and water and soda spills in the dining room. The area around the dining room soda machines is often wet and dangerous. In addition, floors should be deep cleaned every so often to ensure that they are degreased.
Use nonslip mats: Nonslip rubber mats can help prevent slip-and-fall accidents, especially in accident-prone areas such as around sinks and at beverage stations and doorways.
Keep high-traffic areas clear: Employees should always have a clear path as they walk around the restaurant. Boxes, buckets, cords, and other obstacles left in the open become tripping hazards.
Rotate repetitive tasks: When employees must perform the same repetitive task for an extended period, they can suffer overexertion injuries. Therefore, restaurant managers should spread these tasks out between multiple workers. And employees should be allowed to take frequent breaks from these activities. Ergonomic workstations can also provide some relief.
Teach safe lifting and carrying: Employers should teach workers how to safely lift boxes and other heavy objects and instruct them to use hand trucks and dollies to transport heavy items.
Provide employees with safety gear: For example, spatter shields or gauntlets can help protect employees using deep fryers from nasty oil splatters. Mitts and gloves can protect employees tasked with touching or carrying hot kitchen equipment.
Ensure machinery has safety guards: Slicers and other kitchen equipment should have machine guards. These guards should never be altered or removed to increase a worker's productivity.
Workers can do their part by reporting hazards to management as soon as possible.
To learn how our work accident attorneys can help with a work injury claim, call Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers at (617) 777-7777 or fill out our electronic form.