“We have received two reports where crew members drank chemicals, mistaking the contents of the container for water,” he explains. “In the first case, a crewmember was taken to hospital in a critical condition and placed on a life support machine following the accidental ingestion of electrical cleaner. The electrical cleaner was being used by the vessel’s electrician for maintenance on one of the ship’s cranes. The electrician marked the bottle with ‘SOLVENT’ to indicate the water bottle no longer held its original contents. However, the crewmember concerned was working with the electrician but was unaware of this and without consulting him, or inspecting the bottle closely, drank from the bottle.”
“The second incident involved an engineer drinking approximately 10ml of thinners. Fortunately, the third engineer received immediate first aid and is reported as stable with only minor irritation to the throat. Again, the chemical had been decanted from its original container into an empty water bottle. The water bottle containing thinners had been left in the engine control room by the mechanic, who had been using it to dilute paint. On completing his rounds, the duty engineer assumed the bottle belonged to the motorman and took a drink, realising as soon as he sipped the contents it was not water.”
Both reports of the two similar incidents bring to light the importance of simple operations that might not otherwise be thought about twice. Extra care must be taken when using water bottles as a container for substances other than water, which includes ensuring that labeling is obvious and not leaving them in places where they might be mistaken. Crew should also take care when drinking out of bottles left lying around. Watkins Superyachts has advised all managed boats to ensure that all crewmembers are given the opportunity to read the reports.
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