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Near miss: oily rag activated smoke sensor in vessel laundry area

What happened

A fire alarm was activated from the laundry room. On duty personnel were sent to investigate and discovered smoke was coming from one of the clothes dryers in use at the time. 

The power supply to all the dryers was immediately switched off. The smoke (there was no fire) was found to have come from an oily rag in the pocket of one of the coveralls being dried at the time. There were no injuries and some minor damage to clothing.

What was the cause

  • An oily rag in the pocket of one of the coveralls being dried at the time – existing, known, laundry procedures were not followed – realistically, someone forgot to check the pockets of their overalls before putting them in the wash.

What was changed to prevent recurrence

  • Updated risk assessment with additional controls;
  • Renewed signage in laundry to
    • remind crew to check all pockets prior to laundry.
    • remind crew to segregate oil-soiled work clothing when doing laundry.
  • Arranged separate laundry collection point for clothing that may be oil-soiled;
  • Dryer to be set at normal temperature – drying laundry at too high a temperature can greatly increase the risk of combustion;
  • Laundry procedure to be made part of sign-on & vessel induction training.

IMCA notes that this is an ‘evergreen’ safety issue that has come up often before. Our members may wish to bring this potentially serious issue once again to the attention of their management and crew.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 1 November 2022
Download: IMCA SF 24/22

Relevant life-saving rules:
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