Another five casualities in holds highlights the dangers of solid bulk cargoes

An article titled Time to Rethink Safety with Solid Bulk Cargoes by Captain Kevin Cribbin published on December 18 last year highlighted that 24 people had died in ships’ holds while handling solid bulk cargoes during 2018.

There have already been five more fatalities on two bulk carriers this year. Two crew members are reported to have died on February 1 after inhaling toxic fumes while unloading wood chips on the MV Green World in Merak Port in Java, Indonesia.

Another three crew members, including the master and chief officer, died on February 24 on the MV Bahri Bulk in Damman, Saudi Arabia, while unloading wheat bran pellets.

Crew members are often blamed for deaths in enclosed spaces. Human error; so it would seem. But, there are those in the industry who believe that others should be held accountable, that new action should be taken.

“These accidents are an indictment of the entire solid bulk shipping sector and cannot just be the fault of the crew members concerned,” says Cribbin. “Ship operators, ship managers, shippers, regulators, competent authorities, port authorities and P&I Clubs also have a responsibility and must become much more proactive in ensuring that the IMO procedures governing the safe handling of hazardous solid bulk cargoes on board ships are fit for purpose.”

The total number of reported fatalities for the period 1999-2018 is 125, of which 106 were due to asphyxiation arising from oxygen depletion and/or toxic gasses in the cargo holds or adjacent spaces.

Work is currently underway on a submission to IMO to address gaps in the current IMSBC Code and Enclosed Space Entry procedures in order to bring them into line with best practices as quickly as possible,” says Cribbin.

Article first published in The Maritime Executive

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