A female worker at a leading fast-food chain Sukiya collapsed earlier this year while working alone at one of its outlets after having a heart attack and was confirmed dead later, a company official said Thursday.
The woman in her 50s was working an early morning shift in January at a Nagoya outlet and her situation was not discovered until her colleague arrived at around 9 a.m., the official said, adding she was taken to hospital but later pronounced dead.
The chain, known for its gyūdon beef bowls, said a single-staff system had been 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 at its nearly 2,000 outlets across the country.
Following the incident, Sukiya said in a statement it will make "further efforts to improve the working environment for its employees," while a number of industries in Japan have been facing with a chronic shortage of labor, partly because of the country's aging population.
Sukiya said that other shifts, such as the late night 12.a.m. to 5.a.m. shift, have had multiple people staffed for safety and other reasons.
Employees are provided with wireless emergency buttons to use in case of a crime or accident, but the female worker did not have one on her when she collapsed, it added.