TB28 - Enclosed space permits

Enclosed space entry permit to work

Heightened frequency of enclosed space incidents resulting in the death of both crewmembers and visitors

Further to technical bulletin 8/2003, the managers are concerned to note a heightened frequency of incidents resulting in the death of both crewmembers and visitors as a consequence of entry into enclosed spaces, or through the release of noxious gases in enclosed spaces.

These include:

Spain, April 2008

The cargo receiver’s surveyor died on board after entering an untested hold via an opened access hatch. The incident occurred despite the surveyor having been strictly advised by the chief officer and another crewmember to remain out of the holds until clearance was obtained.

Indonesia, June 2008

Two shore-based contractors boarded the ship with the intention of removing sludge from a tank. Unknown to the crew, they gained access to the tank. They were not using breathing apparatus, had not taken any measures to determine the composition of the atmosphere within the tank, and they were overcome by fumes and died. It is likely that one of the contractors entered the space in an attempt to rescue his colleague.

USA, June 2008

A bulk carrier was discharging a coal cargo in Mobile, Alabama, when a stevedore entered the hold via an ‘Australian ladder’. The bottom of the ladder compartment was blocked by coal and it was later determined that the oxygen level was well below normal. The stevedore died.

A crewmember, using only basic equipment, was lucky to escape with his own life after he had courageously, but recklessly, entered the area in the hope of helping the stevedore. It was later determined that the stevedore had fallen and broken his neck as a result of losing consciousness.

Members are encouraged to ensure that there is an onboard system which ensures that all shore-based personnel are aware that they must not enter an enclosed space without prior permission of the master. Rigorous enforcement of the ship’s ISPS system should ensure that the business of all visitors to the vessel is known and understood by the ship’s senior officers.


Staff Author