Japanese fast food chain Sukiya employee dies while working alone

A worker at Japan’s leading fast-food chain Sukiya Co. collapsed earlier this year while working alone at one of its outlets and was later confirmed dead after suffering a heart attack , a company official said Thursday.

The woman in her 50s was working early mornings in January at a Nagoya outlet and her situation was not discovered until her colleague arrived around 9 a.m., the manager said, adding that she had been taken away in the hospital but was later pronounced dead.

The chain, known for its “gyudon” beef bowls, said a one-staff system had been put in place for the early morning shift between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. in some stores. It has now decided to end the system this month and all shifts will be staffed by two or more people in its nearly 2,000 outlets across the country.

Photo taken on June 2, 2022 in Nagoya shows the Sukiya “gyudon” beef bowl fast food restaurant where a female employee collapsed and died of a heart attack in January. (Kyodo)

Following the incident, Sukiya said in a statement that she would make “extra efforts to improve the working environment for her employees”, as a number of industries in Japan face a chronic shortage of workforce, in part because of the country’s aging population.

Sukiya said other shifts, such as the midnight to 5 a.m. night shift, had multiple people for security and other reasons.

Employees are given wireless emergency buttons to use in the event of a crime or accident, but the worker had none on her when she collapsed, he added.

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