british sandwich chain Praet Mag The company has been fined more than $1 million after an employee was trapped in a freezer and forced to use a croissant box to ward off hypothermia.

Westminster City Council, which is investigating the incident, said the worker spent about two-and-a-half hours in temperatures of -0.40°F (-18°C) when they were trapped on a walkway wearing only a T-shirt and jeans. in the freezer. July 2021.

The company, which has more than 6,000 employees and more than 400 stores in the UK, pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday to breaching UK workplace health and safety laws.

The female worker tried to keep warm by walking around in the extreme sub-zero conditions, but she soon began to fear for her life as her breathing became restricted and her thighs and feet became numb, according to the council.

As her condition worsened, she tried to tear open a cardboard box full of chocolate croissants to cover the cold air from the ventilator, but found her hands were too cold to tear it open.

Westminster City Council said in a statement on Wednesday that she was eventually found in a “distressed state” by colleagues at the chain’s Victoria Coach Station branch and taken to hospital, where she suffered from hypothermia. And receive treatment.

No risk assessment in place

After the rescue, the commission’s investigation found that Pret A Manger failed to implement proper risk assessments for employees working in the temperature-controlled environment.

The company’s reporting system shows that there have been multiple calls over the past 19 months for defective or frozen buttons. These include an incident in the same kitchen in January 2020 when a worker became trapped in a walk-in refrigerator after ice buildup damaged the interior door release mechanism.

Aicha Less, MP, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said: “The shocking details of this case show that due care and attention has not been given.” , ignoring basic security measures can have the worst consequences. We hope that the large fine imposed by the court will serve as a warning to all businesses to prevent such incidents from happening again.”

Praet said he was “very sorry” for the incident, adding that new safety chains had been installed in the store’s freezers to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The employee reportedly reinstated her role as Pret team leader after taking a break from the ordeal and was consulted by the company.

A spokesperson for Pret A Manger said: “We have conducted a full review and are working with the manufacturer to develop a solution to stop this from happening again.” wealth. “Following the incident, we have revisited all existing systems and enhanced those processes where appropriate, and are cooperating fully with Westminster City Council’s investigation.”

What to do if a worker is hypothermic

according to National Library of MedicineAbout 20,000 people die from hypothermia each year in the UK, 25,000 in the US and 8,000 in Canada.

Signs to watch out for depend on how long the person has been exposed to cold temperatures: According to reports, symptoms of hypothermia may include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination and confusion. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

People with advanced hypothermia do not shiver. Instead, their skin may be visibly blue, their pupils dilated, their pulse and breathing slowed, and they lose consciousness.

NIOSH recommends the following steps to treat workers with hypothermia:

  • Notify supervisor and request medical assistance.
  • Move victim to a warm room or shelter.
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Warm the center of their body first—the chest, neck, head, and groin—with an electric blanket, if available; or skin-to-skin contact under a loose, dry blanket, clothing, towel, or sheet.
  • Offer hot drinks, as they may help raise body temperature, but do not serve alcoholic beverages. Do not attempt to serve drinks to an unconscious person.
  • After temperature rises, keep the person dry and wrap them in a warm blanket, including the head and neck.
  • If no pulse is detected, begin CPR.


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