Jan 142009

MAC consistently batters on about oxygen testing for confined space or enclosed entry so a recent bulletin from the
http://www.ukpandi.com/ got our attention. Drawing on a report from explosives expert Cliff Mullins at Minton Treharne & Davies, the club waves a red flag over oxygen and gas testing equipment on bulkers that deserves wider notice.

Following an incident on a coal carrier the crew needed to take samples of atmosphere from cargo holds. Sometime before, the equipment had been given to the engine department and it no longer worked because the battery had corroded.

MAC suggests check your batteries and maybe remove them if the device is not in use. Use good quality batteries – in a fit of ecomomy MC once bought a box of cheap batteries, still in the manufacturers wrapping and discovered that 20 per cent of them were already corroded underneath a thin plastic decoration. The rest of the batteries worked for around 15 minutes in a handheld GPS.

In another case cited in the bulletin, equipment couldn’t be used because it wasn’t fitted with the proper aspirator to take samples.

we suggest you check that your equipment is fitted with the right sort of aspirator to take samples. This warning also goes out even to domestic homes since there are also a few cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that happens outside of the workplace. That is why it is a very good idea to get CO in house detector and avoid unnecessary accidents or at worst, death.

In another case, also involving coal, the crew needed to check levels of carbon monoxide and oxygen levels, measurements vital to staying alive. The equipment onboard wasn’t designed to take measure either.

Why such vital equipment wasn’t on board isn’t mentioned, but it sometimes doesn’t occur to shore-based offices that seafarers need oxygen to live.

Finally, there was the curse of the VHS: A meter gave readings that just weren’t realistic so the chief officer was told to calibrate it according to the instruction manual. Unfortunately the manual was Japanese but the Chief Officer wasn’t.

So, check your manuals before you need them and make sure they’re in a language you undetstand.

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