Accidental ingestion of chemicals


We have received two reports where crew members drank chemicals, mistaking the contents of the container for water.

In the first case, a seaman 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 ship'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. The seaman 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 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.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this and confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions.