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Friday, May 3, 2019  (Comments: 3)

A survey by ship management trade association InterManager reports that seafarers and dock workers are still dying while working in enclosed spaces onboard vessels because there is not enough understanding throughout the shipping industry of the risks faced.

Dangerous timeframes are imposed for hazardous tasks and safety improvements do not happen because shipping industry investigations encourage a ‘blame culture’ – according to InterManager's comprehensive industry survey. A large range of vessel operators, managers and crew took part in the three month-long industry-wide survey, with crew from almost 250 ships providing feedback – representing more than 5,000 seafarers.

Key concerns included a perceived lack of improvement in the design of vessels with not enough consideration being given to access areas and the people working in them. As well as being hard to reach, enclosed spaces are frequently impossible to properly ventilate or to measure the atmosphere in, the respondents said. Unrealistically tight timeframes for cargo hold and tank preparation were likened to “bullying on an industrial scale” with seafarers calling on ship managers to shield them from unrealistic commercial time pressures. Seafarers asked for more training, prioritisation of management-led safety cultures, and suggested using the “fear factor” to raise awareness of the dangers of working in enclosed spaces. In fact, respondents recommended changing the phrase to “dangerous space” or even “fatal space” to hit the message home.

Focusing on vessel design, the survey advised that future newbuildings should restrict enclosed spaces to a minimum, with provisions for:

  • adequate ventilation (whole space)
  • adequate fixed gas detection systems
  • accessibility for humans in order to perform search and rescue operations.

InterManager Secretary General, Capt Kuba Szymanski, said: “It is rather sad to see so many seafarers losing hope that their situation will ever improve.. I noticed that the most positive responses came from within companies where senior managers took a leading role on safety matters. InterManager... promises to do all we can to raise awareness of these issues at the highest level.”

Reader Comments (3)

Occupational H S & E is given due attention by most prudent shipowners and operators, and receives perhaps even more attention in the Offshore sector, so as an ex-Class Surveyor and a working Marine Consultant, an increase in injuries and fatalities during Confined Space operations must be considered as disturbing. It begs the question as to whether IMO should promote a campaign to raise awareness to this topic, perhaps through the application of ISM?. Taking it another step further, given the comments in this article, is there a case for the Class majors to offer a Class Notation addressing the topic?

By Bob Hollis on Monday, May 6, 2019

I am a marine engineer who came to sea in 1970, and for the last 13 years have been teaching. It is seen that owners and managers are asking the ships staff to do the impossible these days without proper training and preparation time.

By RAJAN ISAAC on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

I agree with Mr Bob Hollis.

By L S Ganapathy on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

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