At Little League® International in Williamsport, Pa., and at our Regional Offices, calls and emails come in all year long about different situations that are happening at some of our 7,000 local leagues. Many of these calls and emails inform us of some very positive initiatives spearheaded by our millions of volunteers. However, there are also negative situations.
“Don’t Let This Happen to Your League” details a real-world scenario, how it has impacted a league, and how you might learn from it.
The names have been omitted in the following scenario, but the situation is real.
A local league operates a concession stand that services three adjoining fields, and serves as a hub of activity. It also is a considerable revenue producer for the league, but with so many divisions playing at the facility there are many volunteers who spend time working the stand. Due to the volume of people in and out of the concession stand on a nightly basis, it is nearly impossible for the league’s Concession Stand Manager to know them all. To that end, it is impossible for one person to adequately train the cooks and servers on proper safety procedures. A few weeks into the season, on a busy week night at the facility, the concession stand is experiencing the typical “dinner time rush.” The home team is supposed to staff the concession stand, but on this night, only a few parents could make it, so the Concession Stand Manager and her 14-year-old daughter, who just finished practice, step in to help. Still wearing her cleats, the player walks into the concession stand, and as she passes by the oil fryer, she slips on the concrete floor and bangs her arm on a basket of fries cooking in oil. The basket, fries, and hot oil splash her face and left side of her body, burning her skin.
The player suffered third-degree burns to her face and second-degree burns to her left arm and torso. Due to her injuries, she spent time in the area’s medical center burn unit, required multiple skin graft surgeries to the exposed areas, and was lost for the remainder of the softball season. She did physically recover, and could play softball again, but the trauma would be everlasting. It was discovered later, that the reason why the oil fryer basket was not secured was, the person tending to the fryer was not aware of the proper preparation and safety procedures, which requires an individual to always be present when any food item is immersed in the hot oil, and to secure the baskets out of the oil when not in use. Also, the concession operations staff did not have a first-aid or burn kit readily available in the event of injury.
To help to limit concessions-related injuries, create a safety plan outlining operational procedures for all equipment located in the concessions area, along with specific start-up, usage, and clean-up instructions. Offer training on all the equipment that uses electricity, gas, or has the potential to become hot to the touch. All other kitchen products should also be accounted for when developing an instruction manual. Set an age limit for concession stand staff (recommended minimum age of 16 and in accordance with all of your state’s Child Labor Laws); and do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to operate fryers, grills, or hot beverage dispensers. For the general safety of all those individuals who may spend time in the concession stand, organize a formal training meeting that reviews the operation of all equipment in the stand; highlight the safety items available (medical kit, fire extinguisher, electrical breaker box, etc.); install anti-skid flooring; monitor the general condition of the work and food preparation areas, as well as the overall facility; keep walkways clear and clean; thoroughly mop floors on a regular basis; clean all surfaces on a daily basis; conduct bi-weekly inspection of all food preparation equipment; to make sure it is properly installed and in good working condition before use. Be sure to acquire the proper permits required by the city, county, municipality, and the like, before operating a concession stand.