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Worker Develops Bronchitis After Mixing Cleaning Chemicals

A focus on industrial rather than domestic chemical hazards teaches a serious lesson to employee and employer alike.

August 9, 2022

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) recently published an incident in which a worker on a tug boat mixed two cleaning solutions, resulting in his exposure to toxic chemical vapors.

According to the IMCA, the employee who mixed the two chemicals—bleach and toilet cleaner—had no idea of the consequences. The fumes of the chemical reaction caused the worker to experience breathing discomfort, for which he received medical treatment onboard the boat, followed by an onshore assessment. Ultimately, the worker was diagnosed with chemical bronchitis.

The incident not only shed light on the lack of knowledge on the part of the employee, but also a lack of sufficient training on the part of the employer. In providing a concentrated focus on the dangers of industrial chemicals, the company failed to communicate to workers the hazards associated with domestic cleaners.

The company, in reaction to the incident, provided employees with training materials specifically on domestic chemicals and updated risk assessments regarding the mixing of chemicals. There was also a reduction of the number of chemicals in stock onboard the company’s vessels, as well as greater control to their access.

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