- At least three people suffered chemical burns at an IKEA in the Netherlands after the contents of a hand sanitizer bottle were replaced with drain cleaner.
- Police say a cleaning woman who was not a native Dutch speaker made the swap accidentally, according to NOS.
- IKEAs across the Netherlands closed voluntarily in response to the coronavirus pandemic. They are reopening, but allowing fewer customers inside.
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Several visitors to an IKEA in Haarlem, the Netherlands, were treated for chemical burns after at least one bottle of hand sanitizer at the store’s entrance was accidentally refilled with drain cleaner.
At least two customers and one IKEA employee reported difficulty breathing and a powerful burning sensation on their hands immediately after using the sanitizer, NLTimes reported. Emergency services were called and the victims were treated on the scene.
Police investigated and concluded the sanitizer bottle had been refilled with drain cleaner. According to Dutch news outlet NOS, a cleaning woman at the store who was not a native Dutch speaker made the swap accidentally.
The mixture of the cleaner and remaining sanitizer caused a toxic chemical reaction.
Store management reported five customers and three employees were affected, but the company says as many as ten people could have used the tainted sanitizer. It is urging them to come forward.
“Right now, we are not talking about compensation. We are still in contact with the people to help in any way we can,” a spokesperson for IKEA told NLTimes.
Two victims have already retained the services of a personal-injury law firm, Juridisch Bureau Letselschade & Gezondheidsrecht.
IKEA stores across the Netherlands closed in late March voluntarily due to the coronavirus, according to the AP. Stores are now reopening, though the number of customers allowed in has been greatly reduced.
IKEA has had to contend with chemical injury lawsuits in the past. In 2013, the company settled a lawsuit brought in California that alleged it sold changing pads containing a potentially dangerous fire retardant without disclosed it on the packaging.
The suit, which also named dozens of other furniture makers, was settled for a collective $US2.3 million.
May has been a rough month for IKEA: Earlier this week, a video of a woman masturbating on a sofa at an IKEA in China went viral. On its official Weibo account, the company said it would implement “even more careful security and public cleanliness measures” to prevent future incidents.