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MSF: Chemical Handling – Eye Burn

What happened

The Marine Safety Forum published Safety Alert 23-20 relating to someone getting an eye injury as a result of getting chemicals in their eye. The incident occurred when an engineer was preparing equipment for treating fuel tanks with biocide. Correct PPE was used for the job and a toolbox talk was carried out. A portable pneumatic pump was in use for this job. During checks of the pump, a small splash/spray was released from the hose.

At that exact moment someone was passing by on the deck below. A few drops of biocide splashed on to that persons’ head. Although safety glasses were worn, some of the chemical caused irritation in the persons’ eye. He immediately went to the workshop to wash his eyes with water, alerted the engineer who provided eyewash liquid and informed the bridge about the incident. The Chief Officer provided first aid and transport to the hospital was arranged.  The incident resulted in a small burn to the eye and the injured person was provided with antibiotic cream for several days.

What went wrong

The following was noted:

  • A toolbox talk had been held but no safeguards where put in place to prevent encroachment around or below the area of the chemical transfer operation;
  • The areas around and below the chemical transfer operation had not been taped off, (hazard tape) or signage posted to prevent personnel not involved in the operation from entering the area.

What was the cause

There was inadequate assessment of the risks involved: even drops of fluid are dropped objects. The area underneath ought to have been barriered off.

Corrective actions

  • Relocate this chemical transfer operation to a more suitable location;
  • Review risk assessment;
  • Reiterate chemical handling issues in toolbox talks / safety meeting.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 19 March 2024
Download: IMCA SF 06/24

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