Safety alert 06/2011 - Worker injured while cooking food in a microwave oven

Information status

All documents issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Documents listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this document, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

In October 2010, a worker at a fast food outlet received severe burns as they removed hot food from a microwave oven. The container used was a plastic 6 litre microwave container, appropriate for reheating and advertised as part of a food storage system.  However, it was not an appropriate container for cooking frozen peas for 10 minutes.

The plastic container became very hot and flexible producing a funnel effect when removed from the microwave oven. The contents poured down the front of the worker who received third degree burns to the chest requiring skin grafts. The worker was not wearing personal protective equipment.

A written procedure for cooking in the microwave oven was available. However, the worker was only told what to do and what they were told was not a safe way to complete the task.

Contributing factors

  • A written procedure for cooking in the microwave oven was not provided to the worker and verbal instruction was inadequate.
  • The container provided was not suitable for the task.
  • The packet of frozen peas provided to the injured worker did not include cooking instructions. Note: Frozen peas generally do not require water to be added when cooking in a microwave oven as they are full of water. 
  • There was no personal protective equipment provided to protect the worker from heat hazards. 

Action required

  • A risk assessment on all tasks must be done by the employer or person in control of the workplace.
  • Workers must be trained in using safe work procedures.
  • Cooking instructions provided by the supplier or manufacturer of frozen products must be included in the safe work procedure and understood by workers.
  • Appropriate microwave-safe containers must be provided for cooking.
  • Personal protective equipment such as full length PVC apron, oven mitts or pot holders along with industry specific clothing should be worn to protect a worker’s chest area, legs, body and hands.

Further information

Further information relevant to the hospitality industry can be obtained from WorkSafe’s website or by contacting customer service on 1300 307 877 or email safety@dmirs.wa.gov.au    

This Alert contains safety information following inquiries made by WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report or as to its use.

 

WorkSafe
Alert
Last updated 29 Jun 2017

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