Leaking Steam System Valve Caused Severe Hand Burns!


A recently published report by UK P&I CLUB brings to light the various real-time accidents related to burns that had taken place in ships.  It also emphasizes the need to reduce the risk of seafarers suffering from burns at sea.

The Incident

  • When conducting early morning rounds of the engine room, the first engineer noticed that the auxiliary boiler steam dump valve gasket was leaking.
  • He therefore instructed the second and third engineers to stop the boiler and drain all steam and water from the system.
  • After later being informed by the third engineer that the system was drained, the first engineer started work on opening up the valve to check the cause of the leak.
  • However, during removal of the valve bonnet, steam and hot water was discharged from the joint.
  • The first engineer suffered extensive burn injuries to arms, left leg and back, requiring medical evacuation by helicopter for treatment ashore.

Probable causes

Although the accident report did not explain why steam and water was still present in the system after reportedly being drained by the third engineer.  It is evident that the line had not in fact been properly drained and isolated from other parts of the system.


  • Care should be taken when breaking open joints.
  • Ensure that securing bolts are slackened off to the minimum and as far as practicable, keeping well clear.

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Source: UK P&I CLUB


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