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Cook’s arm scalded while removing food from oven

What happened

At a meal time the chief cook opened the upper part of a combined oven to remove a tray of rice that was being kept heated. The tray was at head height for the injured person. Whilst removing the tray, scalding hot water (condensed steam) on the surface of the lid dripped onto the cook’s arm causing a scald injury. The accident was a medical treatment case and the cook had to be sent ashore for treatment.

What went wrong?

The lower oven (which would have been safer) was not working and the upper oven was used instead for hot food storage. As the cook was shorter than the height of the oven it was not possible for him to see the condensed steam on the surface of the lid when he removed the tray.

What were the causes?

Our member determined that the root causes of the incident were inadequate communication and previously damaged equipment. Contributory factors were inadequate inspection and inadequate risk identification and/or risk assessment.

Reaching upwards for a hazardous or heavy object at eye-line is something that ought to occur to you as being potentially tricky. In this case the cook could not see the top of the tray – and scalding water ran off the tray onto his arm. In different circumstances, this could have been dust or debris sliding off the object into your eyes and your face. You might find such an object is too heavy to control with your arms raised. Stop and think!

Lessons learned

Our member:

  • Fixed the lower oven and amended the Planned Maintenance schedule;
  • Reviewed the risk assessment and procedure for this task;
  • Further encouraged crew to report that equipment had failed;
  • Replaced the lids with PVC plastic (film stretch); 

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 3 October 2022
Download: IMCA SF 22/22

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