Back in August last year, we reported a case from the US where a 67-year-old lady suffered severe burning of her oesophagus and mouth after drinking sweet tea from a self-serve beverage station. A worker had unintentionally filled the sugar bag used in the iced-tea dispenser with a cleaning product meant for degreasing deep fryers. The product contained the odourless chemical lye, an active ingredient used in drain cleaners.
This followed a case in 2001 when two UK pensioners died after drinking a detergent liquid they had been given instead of blackcurrant cordial. Ten elderly people, all in their 80’s, were given dishwasher rinse aid to drink by mistake at a private care home in Slough, Berkshire. A care assistant was believed to have confused two similarly packaged bottles of soft drink and the dishwasher detergent.
Unfortunately, similar stories continue to emerge with the most recent being the case of a 49-year-old Spanish man who died after drinking cleaning fluid which had been served as wine. The man died of massive internal burns after mistakenly being served undiluted detergent, which was being stored in an empty wine bottle.
The unfortunate man, Andrés Lorente, was in Bar Raconet on Isabel de Villena square in the city of Benicarló, Castellón for a Sunday afternoon drink on June 14th when he was served with what he thought was a glass of wine. In fact the liquid was cleaning fluid that had been stored in an empty bottle and mistakenly put in a fridge by a member of staff.
Full story here.
We would like to re-affirm, again, the 10 Golden Rules of COSHH (Care of Substances Hazardous to Health):
- Know the correct chemicals to use before starting the task.
- Read the product label carefully. A hazard symbol warns you that there may be a danger present.
- Wear the Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.) provided; it is the legal responsibility of the employer to ensure there is appropriate protective clothing available.
- Avoid contact with skin when diluting or applying chemical products.
- Always ensure that the manufacturer’s instructions on the use of the product are followed when handling any chemical.
- Do not mix chemicals – this can be dangerous – please see our future article on liquid bleach and acids as an example.
- Never put chemicals into unlabelled containers or bottles, or any containers that might be used for drinking or eating.
- Store chemicals safely, in their original containers, upright with the cap tightened.
- Always ensure any spillages, damaged chemical containers or faulty dosing equipment is reported to the management.
- Wash away splashes immediately with clean cold water – be aware of the appropriate First Aid requirements.
You can read our series of blog posts on food safety and proper labelling of chemical products below:
We also have two e-books covering the same topics:
As usual, all comments and feedback are very welcome.