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Inadequate handling and storage of potentially hazardous substances

What happened?

Two drums with unknown chemicals were observed, floating in the sea. The crew retrieved these drums onto the vessel, but they were not stored safely.

What went wrong? What were the causes?

The vessel crew retrieved the drums on board without considering the risks, i.e. they were not aware of the type of product, or the condition of the plastic drums. The drums were placed without drip trays in close vicinity to a deck area commonly accessed by the crew, potentially exposing personnel to unknown risks;

Shore side management were not informed about the collected chemicals.

Lessons learnt

  • A risk assessment should be carried out before handling chemicals or unknown substances potentially hazardous to health;
  • Vessels should report immediately if unidentified floating objects are observed and retrieved onboard, so that adequate collection and destination can be arranged.

Members may wish to refer to the following incidents:

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