593 - 8/08 - Enclosed space entry - Worldwide

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.

Safety lessons

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 leading to lapses in procedure
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Potentially dangerous spaces not being identified
  • Would-be rescuers acting on instinct and emotion rather than knowledge and training."


Staff Author