Skip to content

First aid injury: Person scalded by steam condensate

A member has reported an incident in which a person was scalded when working in the kitchen/pantry area on-board a vessel. The incident occurred when the injured person was rinsing dishes in the ships pantry, near a boiler. The boiler exhausted steam through a vent pipe, and so a plastic tube was retro-fitted to the vent, allowing any condensate to drain into the sink in which the dishes were rinsed. Steam vented from the boiler and the condensate ran down the tube, exiting the pipe in to the sink and coming in to contact with the injured person’s right forearm. He immediately ran cold water over his arm and reported directly to the medic who carried out first aid.

Vent tube
Vent tube
Exit to sink
Exit to sink
The injury
The injury
The permanent solution
The permanent solution

Our member’s investigation noted the following:

  • The immediate response of applying cold water & seeking medical aid was correct & timely, preventing the injury from getting worse and avoiding potential subsequent infection;
  • Following the incident, the water boiler was immediately decommissioned until the correct means of venting steam/condensate had been established;
  • Vessel crew contacted the boiler manufacturer to seek guidance on correct solution. The manufacturer responded and supported installation of a permanent solution, to drain condensate directly into the main plumbing and away from the sink. This actively removed exposure to the hazard of hot steam/condensate.

The lessons learnt:

  • Be aware of temporary solutions – the fitting of the plastic pipe should only have been considered as an initial temporary solution and should have been followed up with subsequent action to make a safer, permanent solution;
  • Ensure control measures don’t actually increase risk – the plastic pipe was installed as a control measure to reduce the risk presented by steam venting directly from the boiler. Whilst this solution was implemented with the best intentions, it reduced one risk but created another – that of draining hot condensate into the sink;
  • Report hazards & unsafe conditions – this boiler was installed six months before but no-one had raised any safety observations or reported any concerns until someone got hurt;
  • Stop work- regardless of your rank or role, or where you work on the vessel, be aware of unsafe acts and/or working conditions and exercise thestop workauthority to ensure that they are corrected before anyone gets hurt.

Rather than draw members’ attention to other scalds or burns, we look here at incidents wherein a causal factor was a temporary or uncertified fix or solution:

Safety Event

Published: 20 December 2016
Download: IMCA SF 35/16

IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.