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LTI: Eye injury following incident with microwaved food

A member has reported an incident in which someone suffered an eye injury following being hit in the face by food taken from a microwave oven. The incident occurred when a crew member reheated pre-cooked poached eggs by covering them in water in a bowl covered with pierced cling film and heating in a microwave oven. The eggs were reheated at two cycles of two minutes at 900W of power and then removed from the oven. Approximately a minute after removal from microwave, the contents of the bowl blew up into the person’s face. Despite the wearing of prescription safety glasses (see photo) and the prompt action of an adjacent crew member in applying copious amounts of cold water, a resultant burn to the eye necessitated a medevac for assessment and further treatment onshore.

Fortunately the burns, although painful, healed rapidly and the injured person was able to return to work after two weeks.

Our member’s investigation revealed the following contributory factors:

  • Although the reheating of pre-cooked poached eggs occurred frequently, there was no standard method or written instructions for doing so;
  • The ‘normal’ method of immersing the eggs in several changes of hot water was not universally understood;
  • The warnings in the microwave oven instruction book regarding the heating of poached eggs was not heeded (the yolk has to be pierced before heating);
  • There were no warning signs posted on or adjacent to the microwave oven;
  • Familiarisation training for new crew did not include the use of this equipment;
  • There was poor perception of the risks inherent in the use of a microwave oven;
  • There was no recognition of it being ‘work equipment’. As a consequence, no importance was attached to a suitable or sufficient risk assessment for the microwave oven or any other pantry equipment, or to risk assessment for associated pantry/mess-room tasks not part of the normal professional operation of the galley.

Members may wish to refer to the following incident (search word: microwave)

Safety Event

Published: 9 November 2016
Download: IMCA SF 30/16

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