The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a Safety Bulletin concerning fatalities in enclosed spaces.
The Safety Bulletin reports that “since September 2007 the MAIB has started three investigations into accidents in which a total of six seafarers have died in enclosed/confined spaces.
The Marine Accident Investigators International Forum (MAIIF) identified the large number of fatalities in the shipping industry worldwide which were related to work in confined or enclosed spaces and considered that the occurrence of such accidents was increasing. To date, responses from 18 administrations identify 120 fatalities and 123 injuries resulting from entry into confined spaces since 1991.
There can be few aspects of personal safety on board ships that have received more attention than the importance of following the correct procedures before entering a dangerous enclosed/confined space. Tragically, it is clear that the measures which have been put into place have failed to prevent the death of many seafarers. Indeed, the data collected on behalf of MAIIF indicates that accidents in enclosed/confined spaces continues to be one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities on board ships today. This is due to:
Complacency, lapses in procedures, and acting on instinct and emotion rather than knowledge and training are recognised elements of human error. A human error incident is an unplanned event which occurs when an uncontrolled hazard meets an undefended target.
To learn more about the theory of human error, visit the Human Element pages of the Loss Prevention section of the Club website.
The MAIB Safety Bulletin states “it is essential that the IMO recognises the unacceptably large fatality rate in this area and takes the lead in identifying initiatives to improve this very poor safety record. It is also vital that all shipping industry bodies raise the awareness of the continuing and increasing number of deaths in enclosed spaces to show that no-one is immune to the physical effects of the lack of oxygen or harmful gases. While the holding of breath might seem a logical step to a person entering a tank ‘for a few seconds’ or to a would-be rescuer, it is all too frequently the last life sustaining breath he or she ever takes.”
Incidents reported in MAIB Safety Bulletin 02/2008:
Use the following link to view the full text of the Safety Bulletin on the MAIB website
Enclosed space entry procedures
The Association recently published Technical Bulletin No. 2008 which recommends an enclosed space entry system as seen on tankers entered with the Club.
The system requires everybody on board to have a name tag which is hung on a board at the access point to the space, whenever the person enters the space. Each access point to an enclosed space is also tagged with details of the enclosed space entry permit to work. There are strict requirements for the permit itself.
For full details, please view the Technical Bulletin which can be downloaded from the Loss Prevention area of the Club website.
Source of information:
UK P&I Club Loss Prevention Department
Tel: +44 20 7204 2217