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Incorporating Clean Shipping International


Thursday, September 13, 2018  (Comments: 1)

Norwegian P&I Club Gard has advised its members to review their enclosed space entry procedures following a spate of incidents reported by the Republic of the Marshall Island (RMI).

In the Flag’s August Marine Safety Advisory (MSA 23-18) RMI reported two enclosed space incidents onboard RMI-flagged ships which resulted in the deaths of three seafarers and two seafarers losing consciousness.

Although the details of these incidents differ, the RMI ‘s preliminary investigations revealed that both involved experienced officers directing junior seafarers to enter an enclosed space that they knew was not safe for entry and without complying with the ship’s established enclosed space entry procedures; the officer not informing the master that an enclosed space was going to be entered; and seafarers entering the enclosed space on their own initiative and without the use of proper equipment.

A near fatal accident involving one of Gard’s own surveyors has also served as a stark reminder that any enclosed space is potentially life threatening - and that even trained professionals make mistakes.

“Our surveyor entered a void space onboard a barge without testing the atmosphere first and collapsed due to the lack of oxygen inside the space. Despite his long experience with entering tanks, he felt that the barge in question was such an easy object to inspect and entered the space without ensuring that there was a breathable atmosphere inside. If it had not been for a quick-witted superintendent on deck, and maybe a bit of good fortune, he would probably not have survived,” says Gard.

The RMI recommends that ship managers review their enclosed space entry procedures and, if necessary revise them, to ensure they comply with the applicable requirements, such as IMO’s recommendations outlined in Resolution A.1050(27) and MSC.1/Circ.1477, RMI’s Marine Notice 7-041-1, the UK’s “Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen” (COSWP) and Section 10 of the ILO’s “Code of practice for accident prevention on board ship at sea and in port.

Gard also recommends establishing an inventory of all enclosed spaces on board that seafarers may enter and where there is any likelihood that they might become dangerous. The inventory should record the particular characteristics of the space, the likely hazard involved, and the measures taken to prevent entry unless safety procedures are followed. Any difficulties inherent in a rescue from the space should also be considered, and solutions identified, so that in the event of an emergency, the crew is in the best position to respond quickly.

In particular, RMI recommends that ship managers send a letter or bulletin to all ships in their managed fleet addressing the dangers of improperly entering an enclosed space; how to recognise an enclosed space; and that all seafarers, regardless of seniority, must not enter an enclosed space without permission and then only in accordance with the ship management’s established procedure;

Gard says the findings from RMI’s preliminary investigations corresponds with Gard’s own experience. “Over the years we have handled numerous cases of death and injury resulting from enclosed space entries and in most such cases, a lack of knowledge of the hazards present and/or taking procedural shortcuts seem to be the prevalent causes,” says the P&I Club.


Reader Comments (1)

When are we going to get this right? As a ship engineer officer I was taught how to enter all spaces safely. I still here of experienced people disregarding their own safety. At this college I impress the importance of the correct procedure being adopted by todays cadets but this will have no impact if senior staff do not. I have entered enclosed spaces as an engineer, ship surveyor for insurance purposes and as a Classification Society Surveyor I'm still here because I know how to do it safely.

By Eric Ewing on Thursday, September 20, 2018

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