Chicken restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has been fined almost £1m after two employees sustained injuries while handling gravy at two Stockton Borough branches.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was ordered to pay £968,700 in combined fines and costs at Teesside Crown Court on 19 January.
On 23 November 2016, KFC pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 during a hearing at Teesside Magistrates Court.
The court heard of a 16-year-old employee of the Teesside Park branch who, on 14 July 2014, suffered serious burns to his hands and arms after removing hot gravy from a microwave without using protective gloves.
In a separate incident on 1 December 2015, an employee at the Wellington Square restaurant in Stockton removed a tub of hot gravy from a microwave and it spilled, also causing serious burns to her body.
Environmental Health officers from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council inspected the restaurant on 3 December 2015. They found "that staff at the restaurant were unable to locate any spare protective gloves, processes were not being managed and the business failed to ensure that their own procedures were being followed".
Representatives from KFC said that the chain invests £7.5m in in health and safety measures every year. They also said that procedures were in place but not followed, but have cooperated with all aspects of the investigation.
Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's cabinet member for access, communities and community safety, said: "This is a huge fine that sends out a very clear message that all food business operators have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees and provide them with suitable training.
"Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited did not maintain this responsibility and as a result, two of its employees suffered extremely painful but preventable injuries.
"Environmental Health officers conducted a very thorough investigation into these two very serious incidents, which has enabled us to bring this prosecution. Our officers are also available to offer advice to businesses and their employees on health and safety issues in the workplace."