Enclosed Space Accidents
Enclosed space accidents are very common on board ships. Such accidents occur mainly when the ship’s crew enters a confined/enclosed space, which is not properly gas-freed and has several pockets of toxic/flammable gases.
Procedure for Entering an Enclosed Space
The following are the points that need to be followed before entering an enclosed space:
1. Risk assessment to be carried out by a competent officer, as enclosed or confined space entry is deficient in oxygen, making it a potential life hazard.
2. Risk assessment that needs to be carried out must include what work to be done, rescue operation to be followed etc.
3. Potential hazards are to be identified such as presence of toxic gases.
4. A list of jobs to be done should be made for the ease of assessment for e.g. if welding is to be carried out or some pipe replacement is to be done. This helps in carrying out the work quickly and easily.
5. Opening and securing has to be done and precaution should be taken to check if the opening of enclosed space is pressurized or not.
6. All fire hazard possibilities should be minimized if hot work is to be carried out. Emptying the fuel tank or chemical tank nearby the hot work place can do this.
7. The confined space has to be well ventilated before entering.
8. The space has to be checked for oxygen content and other gas content with the help of oxygen analyzer and gas detector.
9. The oxygen content should read 20% by volume. Percentage less than that is not acceptable and more time for ventilation should be given in such circumstances.
10. Enough lighting and illumination should be present in the enclosed space before entering. As far as practicable lighting should be intrinsically safe.
11. A proper permit to work has to be filled out and checklist to be checked so as to prevent any accident which can endanger life.
12. Permit to work is to be valid only for a certain time period. If time period expires, a new permit is to be issued and checklist is to be filled out again.
13. Permit to work has to be checked and permitted by the master of the ship in order to work in confined space.
14. Duty officer has to be informed before entering the enclosed space.
15. Proper signs and “Men at work” sign boards should be provided at required places so that person should not start any equipment, machinery or operation in the confined space, putting life of the people at risk.
16. The checklist has to be signed by the person involved in entry and also by a competent officer.
17. One person must always be kept standby to communicate with the person inside the space.
18. The person may also carry a lifeline with him inside the enclosed space.
19. The person should carry oxygen analyzer with him inside and it should be on all the time to monitor the oxygen content.
20. As soon as the level drops, the analyzer should sound the alarm and the space should be evacuated quickly without any delay.
21. No source of ignition has to be taken inside unless the master or competent officer is satisfied.
22. The number of persons entering should be constrained to the adequate number of persons who are actually needed inside for work.
23. Rescue equipment is to be present outside the confined space. Rescue equipment includes breathing air apparatus and spare charge bottles.
24. Means of hoisting an incapacitated person should be available.
25. After finishing the work, when the person is out of the enclosed space, the after work checklist has to be filled.
26. The permit to work has to be closed after this.