A recent death at a Buffalo Wild Wings demonstrates the importance of hazard communication training—and the tragic cost of repeating environmental health and safety mistakes.
Earlier this month, a general manager of a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise in the Boston area died from chemical exposure. CNN reports that 32-year-old Ryan Baldera was overcome by the “toxic fumes” a restaurant employee inadvertently created by combining “a chlorine bleach-based product, Super 8, and acid-based cleaner Scale Kleen on the kitchen floor while cleaning it.”
Baldera was taken to the hospital, where he passed away.
More than a dozen others, including 11 employees and 2 customers, were also exposed to the fumes and hospitalized “with burning eyes and difficulty breathing.”
This incident appears to be the second one of its kind at a Buffalo Wild Wings in the past few years. An OSHA report reveals that in August of 2016, an employee at one of the chain’s Florida locations died from asthma following “exposure to chemicals from work.” The employee had apparently been working in a non-ventilated environment in temperatures above 110 degrees.
Such deaths are not only tragic, but completely preventable.
Had these Buffalo Wild Wings locations implemented effective workplace hazard communication programs, the lives of Baldera and the unnamed Florida employee may have been spared.
At the same time, note how much national news coverage this unfortunate accident captured. What seems like a small oversight at one facility can have huge impacts across the organization. The franchises and the overall Buffalo Wild Wings brand could have avoided significant legal costs as well as the reputational damage that tends to follow stories like these. But most people know this already. I think they tend to forget about the costs.
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