Takeaway business fined $75,000 after hair caught in rotisserie

A fast food business in Victoria has been convicted and fined $75,000 after a worker’s ponytail was caught in an unguarded rotisserie machine at a store in Plenty.

Souvlaki GR Plenty was sentenced ex-parte in the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court after being found guilty of one charge of failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work and one charge of failing to provide adequate information, instruction and training. The company was also ordered to pay $5682 in costs.

In February 2022, the 22-year-old worker reached for a takeaway container lid on a high shelf when her hair became entangled in the turning cog at the top of the store’s rotisserie machine.

The worker yelled for help before a co-worker activated the emergency stop button, while a hairdresser from a neighbouring business was able to cut away the entangled hair from the machine. The worker lost a significant amount of hair and suffered swelling to her head. She was taken to the hospital and spent two weeks off work.

The injured worker and a co-worker working at the time of the incident told WorkSafe a training night held by the business after the incident was the first time they became aware of workplace policies and procedures and their location in the workplace.

It was reasonably practicable for the company to have provided and maintained a safe system or work that required employees to wear personal protective equipment, namely hairnets and/or securing long hair in a bun, and not store takeaway containers on a shelf above the rotisserie machine; and to have provided information, instruction and training as was necessary to ensure employees were implementing the system of work and aware of the risks when working in proximity to the rotisserie.

“A large cohort of workers within the hospitality industry are young and inexperienced and, at the very least, they deserve proper training, instruction and supervision to do their jobs safely,” said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety, Sam Jenkin.

“Simple measures such as storing items away from danger areas and ensuring workers secured hair appropriately could have prevented a traumatic physical injury.”