Enclosed spaces onboard ships continue to pose dangers


Chris Roberts, Senior Risk Assessor at UK P&I Club, comments on seafarers not correctly implementing enclosed space entry permits

“Amendments to the SOLAS convention on enclosed space entry came into force on 1 July 2016, requiring all ships to carry portable atmosphere testing equipment on board.

“Under the new regulation the atmosphere testing equipment on board must be able to measure the concentration of oxygen, flammable gas/vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide as a minimum before a crew member enters an enclosed space. Any space that has limited openings for entry and exit, inadequate ventilation and is not designed to be continuously occupied qualifies as an enclosed space and the atmosphere in these spaces can pose a very real risk to the life of crew members.

“However, even with the potential threat to life these spaces can cause, the UK P&I Club’s Risk Assessors are still finding instances where the proper, and now legally required, precautions are not being carried out. In order to minimise the threat to life caused by entering enclosed spaces, The Club recommends ensuring that the Permit to Work checklist includes the following precautions as a minimum:

· Is the multi-gas detector supplied with tubing long enough to reach all areas of the space to be entered?
· Has the enclosed space been ventilated for at least 24 hours prior to entry?
· Has ventilation been stopped at least 10 minutes prior to initial gas testing?
· Has an adequate risk assessment been undertaken and a pre-work safety meeting been held involving all personnel?
· Is the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus set, and a qualified stand-by person designated to be at the entrance during entry, with adequate communication to the personnel inside the space?
· Are all personnel to enter the space issued with a personal multi-gas alarm unit?
· Is there proper through ventilation continuous during entry?
· Is there an adequate atmosphere re-testing regime during the entry period?
· Have all personnel involved signed the Permit to Work?

To safeguard the health and wellbeing of all crew, only when all proper safety precautions have been taken into account should personnel be allowed to enter an enclosed space on board.”

Source: UK P&I Club

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