Lessons Learnt: Burn injury to first engineer

Vessel Type: Tanker

Incident description:

While the 1st engineer was performing his normal daily duties as day work team leader, he instructed the 2nd & 3rd engineers to check a boiler valve gasket that had been reported as leaking.

The 1st engineer told them to stop the boiler operation and drain out all steam and water in preparation for the job. They were specifically instructed to ensure that the system was empty before commencing work.

During the inspection, as the 1st engineer tried to open the valve bonnet, steam and boiling water was suddenly released at high pressure. Before avoiding action could be taken, the steam had burnt the 1st engineer’s left leg, both arms and backside along with the left side of his face.

The 1st engineer suffered shock but remained conscious. However, he was not able to comprehend what had gone wrong with the valve and how the high pressure steam and water had escaped as this was supposed to have been checked by the 2nd & 3rd engineers prior to opening.

The medical team urgently provided first aid to the injured 1st engineer who suffered severe injuries as a consequence of this incident.

Lessons Learned:

  • The operation should have been subject to a risk assessment and pre-work meeting to identify potential hazards and necessary safety precautions.
  • The responsible officer did not adequately supervise the operation by positively directing the actions of the crew members involved.
  • Inadequate crew familiarisation with safe operational procedures and maintenance requirements for the boiler.
  • Failure to properly observe the boiler manufacturer’s instructions in relation to the work being performed.

The UK Club’s Loss Prevention team combines practical solutions that address Members’ needs and claims experience with research into the wider issues that impact directly on P&I insurance and the Club’s exposure to claims. Every year, the UK P&I Club deals with thousands of claims using the expertise and experience of its professional claims handlers, ex-seafarers and lawyers. With five decades of research into loss prevention issues the Club has developed a formidable body of technical material on maritime risks. Each month the Loss Prevention team aim to share some of the Club’s claims experience, by looking at real case examples and identifying lessons learnt to help Members avoid similar incidents – you can find past lessons learnt here: https://www.ukpandi.com/loss-prevention/training-advice/lessons-learnt/

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