Now that’s just cold!
Coffee and fast-casual chain Pret a Manger has been fined over $1 million (800.000 euros) after an employee was accidentally trapped inside a walk-in freezer for two and a half hours.
The incident occurred on July 29 at the Victoria Coach Station stop in London. The woman was stuck in the -18-degree freezer while only wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
“The worker was eventually found by a colleague, in a state of distress and believing she was going to die,” the City of Westminster said in a press release. “She was taken to hospital where she was treated for suspected hypothermia.”
According to Insider, the employee was released from the hospital later that day and is still working for the company.
The employee, who is remaining anonymous, reportedly tried to break up a box of chocolate croissants and put it over the ventilator to stop more cold air from flowing in but began losing feeling in her limbs due to the cold.
Upon investigation, authorities found that in January 2020, a similar incident occurred when another employee was trapped in the freezer and couldn’t escape because the internal unlock button wasn’t functioning.
“We are incredibly sorry for our colleague’s experience and understand how distressing this must have been,” a spokesperson for Pret told Insider. “We have carried out a full review and have worked with the manufacturer to develop a solution to stop this from happening again. Following the incident, we have revisited all our existing systems and where appropriate, enhanced these processes, and have cooperated fully with Westminster City Council’s investigation.”
The chain pleaded guilty and must pay the City of Westminster in full within 28 days.
Pret a Manger did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur‘s request for comment.