Employee Burned with Hot Oil (KV121)


What Happened?

At 2:30 p.m. on May 27, 2917, a fast-food restaurant employee accidentally dropped a disposable lighter into an operating deep fryer. Fearing contamination of the cooking oil, the employee quickly grabbed a skimmer and attempted to retrieve the lighter. As the employee reached the skimmer into the fryer, the lighter exploded. This caused 365 degrees Fahrenheit cooking oil to splash onto the employee. The employee sustained dermal burns to the right arm, hand and face.

Contributing Factors

Lighters, cell phones, or other personal items were not permitted in food handling areas. 

What Can We Learn?


Questioning Attitude: By asking “what is the worst thing that is most likely to happen to me”, he would have stopped and reconsidered removing the lighter. 

Procedures: The employee should have adhered to the procedure guidance forbidding personal items in food handling areas. 


Since the task looked quite easy and simple, he fell into the Overconfidence and did not consider how a butane lighter might react in hot oil.

Kitchen job duties did not involve the use of a lighter. Introducing the lighter to the kitchen’s Physical Environment was a latent error; losing control of the lighter was an active error.

Ask the Right Questions

How does this relate to our work?

Where do we have similar traps?

What Tools can we use to avoid a similar incident?

Was a stop work point missed?