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MSF: Lithium battery contents in eyes

The Marine Safety Forum has published a safety flash regarding an incident in which a crewman was splashed in the eyes with material from a Lithium battery. The incident occurred offshore whilst the ship’s Electro Technical Officer (ETO) was engaged in the repair of a ship’s instant reaction electronic welders mask. The tablet style lithium ion battery to the mask needed replacing and due to the compact nature of the equipment it was considered that this could only be done by soldering connections on to the new battery. The original mask battery was soldered by machine soldering. The repair required manual soldering for obvious reasons. The first connection was made successfully and whilst soldering the second connection the lithium battery overheated and popped causing the battery contents to spray out into the ETO’s eyes.

Personnel nearby reacted rapidly and correctly applying copious quantities of water to the injured person’s eyes. There was no permanent harm to the injured person’s eyes.

The root causes of the incident were:

  • Failure to use personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Inadequate time was allowed between soldering operations for the battery to cool down causing it to over-pressurise and fail resulting in the injury;
  • Inadequate work planning or programming – the work was seen as ‘everyday’ which resulted in an inadequate risk assessment.

Members should be aware that IMCA provides a useful series of safety prompt cards, one of which is ‘Protect your eyes‘.

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.

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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.