Portland-area fast food and restaurant workers reported dangerous workplace temperatures during last month’s historic, deadly heat wave, according to complaints filed with Oregon Occupational Safety & Health, obtained by WW through a public records request. Oregon Business previously reported on the complaints.
Of approximately 40 Portland-area complaints alleging excessive heat, 14 were filed by food service workers, including three employees at McDonald’s and two at Chipotle Mexican Grill.
“No air conditioner during this extreme heat and still having all the staff work. It has [gone] up to 125 degrees inside the building, potentially exposing employees to heat stress,” one employee at the McDonald’s in St. Johns reported.
“The health and safety of our guests and crew are our top priority,” McDonald’s said in an email to WW. “We unfortunately had an issue with some of the kitchen equipment, which raised the temperature in the restaurants.”
An employee at the Applebee’s on Northeast Halsey Street filed a complaint alleging the restaurant reached 108 degrees because the air conditioning broke: “The employer refuses to close and fix the air conditioning,” the employee said. “Employees had to use ice and cool rags to stay cool. This type of weather is not fit for employees to work.”
A worker at the Claim Jumper in Tualatin alleged employees had been using the walk-in refrigerator to cool off from indoor temperatures above 90 degrees, but that “the manager locked the door to keep employees from using the only one way that was available for them to cool off.”
None of the other restaurants responded to requests for comment.
Other Portland eateries that spurred OSHA complaints from employees during the heat wave include Voodoo Donuts, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Pine State Biscuits.