‘Flames wrapped around me’: Teen scarred in fryer blast
A YOUNG man whose upper body was "engulfed by flames" in a gas explosion at Downtown Burgers has blamed poor supervision and training for the incident.
Seventeen-year-old Blair D'Agostino was opening the kitchen at the now closed Ocean St burger bar in August when a gas explosion left him with severe burns.
The fryer would not ignite on the first few tries, leading him to phone his boss, Downtown Burgers owner Cam Scott, for assistance.
Mr D'Agostino said Mr Scott instructed him to stay on the phone while trying to ignite the fryer again.
"As soon as I tried it while he was on the phone the lighter ignited the gas, engulfing my arm that was inside of the fryer," Mr D'Agostino said.
"The flames just wrapped around me."
Other employees and nearby business owners rushed to Mr D'Agostino's assistance and he was taken to Sunshine Coast University Hospital, where he stayed for a week recovering with burns to his arms, upper chest, neck, face and ankle.
The now 18-year-old can't go outside during the day without covering his arms, legs, chest and hands to prevent permanent scarring.
"I can't go out with friends most times unless it's night time," he said. "It sucks.
"It definitely plays a big part on me mentally."
Mr D'Agostino is now pursuing a work cover claim against Downtown Burgers, alleging his employer "fell short" in its responsibilities to him.
He said while Mr Scott was sympathetic and supportive after the incident, he thought the explosion could have been avoided with better training and supervision.
"I've only turned the fryer off. I wasn't properly trained to ignite the fryer," he said.
He also said the explosion was caused from dated equipment, a claim Mr Scott denied.
"The fryer was not faulty," Mr Scott said.
Shine Lawyers solicitor Georgia Johnson said Mr D'Agostino was not properly supervised after reaching out for assistance when the fryer would not ignite.
"His needs and his requirements were not met, and as a result he suffered a significant injury which is really having quite an adverse impact on his life," she said.
The amount that Mr D'Agostino will claim will depend on how his injury progresses and how he recovers, Ms Johnson said.
Mr Scott said Downtown Burgers was complying with Work Cover Queensland and he understood there were no further issues.
"In a situation like that we just care about Blair," he said.
"We wanted to make sure Blair recovered, to make sure he was fine, and from what I understand he is recovering well."
Mr Scott said Downtown Burgers was constantly reviewing its safety procedures and ensured the safety of its staff.
"On all regards we've done everything we possibly can to follow up with Blair, make sure he's OK, put systems in place, complied 100 per cent with the Queensland Government," he said.