Accidents in enclosed spaces onboard ships have been a source of serious injuries and fatalities for many years, yet still they happen. Analysis of the accidents shows failure to follow established procedures many times leads to such accidents and incidents. In this video published by Gard P&I Club, you will see Gard’s former surveyor, Alf Martin Sandberg’s story, who could have lost his life when he entered Click to w void space onboard a barge without checking the atmosphere inside the space first.
This story is a real-life reminder that any enclosed space is potentially life-threatening. For this reason, every precaution should be taken both before to entry and while inside an enclosed space, and that even trained professionals make mistakes.
In addition, as of 1 January 2015 it is mandatory for all crewmembers with enclosed space entry or rescue responsibilities to take part in regular drills. Nevertheless, the problem with regulatory enforcement is that good intentions often become paper-pushing exercises.
To prevent casualties it is important to make sure that those participating in the drill understand that the purpose of enclosed space entry procedures is to prevent accidents and not simply to satisfy the regulators.
Gard recommends that all seafarers are given proper on-board training to help them recognise, evaluate and control hazards associated with entry into enclosed spaces.
Overall, seafarers often ignore the basic safety procedures and precautions when entering enclosed spaces. In many cases in the past, the person who tried to save the victim, became a victim himself. The following procedures and actions are to be followed in a case a victim is to be rescued from an enclosed space:
– Raise the alarm and inform Master
– Obtain necessary assistance and equipment including medical support
– Lifelines, breathing apparatus, resuscitation equipment and other items of rescue equipment are ready for use
– First aid squad fully equipped near to the scene
– Communication link established. Use approved VHF/UHF radios
– The officer in charge of the rescue must remain outside the space, where he can exercise the most effective control
– Before entry, the officer in charge must inform in briefly the squads about the peculiarities of the relevant space (if possible consult relevant plan)
– During rescue operation adequate ventilation shall be provided continuously.