Lessons Learnt: Enclosed Space Fatality

On a loaded bulk carrier, a bulkhead stool void space was due for periodical internal inspection. The chief officer instructed the bosun to open the main deck lid to the vertical access trunk and place a small ventilation fan over the opening. In the meantime, he completed a permit to work in his office. About 20 minutes later, he joined the bosun at the void space access. The C/O instructed the bosun to remove the fan and stand by the opening while he entered to carry out the inspection. It was agreed that the C/O would maintain communication via walkie-talkie and use his personal gas meter to check the atmosphere at each ladder platform before descending down to the next level.. After the C/O had reached the bottom of the ladder, he did not report, and when he failed to respond to the bosun’s calls, the bridge watch keeper was alerted. The bosun then entered the access trunk to render assistance to the C/O, but upon reaching the bottom of the ladder, he became dizzy and collapsed. Other crew members performed a rescue using self-contained breathing apparatus. Although the bosun regained consciousness, the C/O lost his life.