Jul 222011
 

Scottish Sea Farms, Loch Crenan. Photo: Scottish Association for Marine Science

Two companies have been fined a total of £640,000 following the death of two fish farm workers on a barge moored at a salmon farm on Loch Creran, Argyll & Bute.

Scottish Sea Farms worker, Campbell Files and engineer Arthur Raikes – employed by Logan Inglis Limited, Cumbernauld – were fixing a hydraulic crane on the barge when they went below deck to find cabling and pipework.

The oxygen levels below deck were very low and Mr Files passed out while Mr Raikes managed to climb back out.  In an attempt to rescue Mr Files, two colleagues, Maarten Den Heijer and Robert MacDonald entered the small chamber below deck but lost consciousness almost immediately.

The three men needed to be rescued by emergency services but only Mr Files recovered, while his colleagues died at the scene.

Following the incident on 11 May 2009, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered Scottish Sea Farms had not provided suitable information, instruction and training for employees working in the small sealed chambers on the Loch Creran barge or a safe way for them to work.

Logan Inglis Limited had not provided information, instruction or training for their engineers on working in these confined spaces so Mr Raikes was also not aware of the risks he faced on the barge. Continue reading »

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Jul 212011
 

SafeSpace member Javier Saavedra from Galicia, Spain, has alerted us to a news report of the death of a worker in the ballast of a harbor dredger in a neighboring province.

One crewmember went inside the ballast tank without having previously made a gas check. On entering he lost consciousness and fell down and another crewman attempted to resce him, also losing consciousness.
Eventually a third crewmember went inside wearing a SCBA set and managed to take his two crewmates out. Rescucitation treatment was immediately commenced by the crew and as soon as emergency services showed up they immediately evacuated one of the casualties to hospital suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest. Continue reading »
Jul 212011
 

Work at height remains work at height when it is carried out in a confined space, as a report into a fatality aboard the Vanuatu-registered bulk carrier Polska Walczaca from the Australian Transport Safety Board.  The fatality occured while the victim was intalling a repaired safety handrail on a platform 5 metres above the tank bottom of a cargo hold.

The victim did have a safety harness but was not wearing it, it was found on the platform from which he fell. He also appears not to have worn his hard hat properly, it was found without signs of impact damage some distance from the victim.

The two most obvious lessons are: wear a safety harness, wear a hardhat properly. However, there are other issues worth looking at.

The OS could only see as far as the second platform.

Continue reading »

Jul 202011
 

Following the explosion and fire at the Chevron Pembroke Refinery on 2 June Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, HSE, has issued a reminder of  the risks of tank cleaning operations and precautions to be taken. Said to be Britain’s worst refinery incident since 1974, four lives were lost and one person was hospitalised with serious burns.

Three of the deceased were contractors employed by BDS,a local company, working in a large storage tank on the refinery’s sulphur recovery plant. The two other workers were fire marshals from Hertel, a national contracting company. The incident was contained on site and there
were no offsite effects. The refinery is a ‘top tier’ establishment under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as a  mended), COMAH. Continue reading »

Jul 192011
 

Lifesaving ladder for entry

Informal Tanker Operators Safety Forum currently carries this photo of a useful cheap way of making entry into a ballast tank, or any manhole, that bit safer.Says the blog: “The… arrangement easily fits on the manhole studs and is light & portable”.

Apparently the arrangement came about following a close call, which demonstrates the importance of reporting close calls.

It’s easy to lose grip or slip when climbing into a manhole of this kind, which may then lead to  need to rescue from a confined space, and this arrangement reduces the chance of that happening.

It is also worth pointing out that when opening a confined space of this sort, whether it’s a ballast tank or an anchor cable locker, it is a good idea to step back – one can become enveloped in a cloud of oxygen deficient air and be rendered unconscious – yes it has happened more than once.

 

 

Jul 182011
 

Oxygen deficiency plays a key role in many confined space accidents but new research show that its effects are more complex than most of us suppose.

Our brains depend on oxygen and the lower the level of oxygen the less alert we are and the less able we are to understand the dangers we are in. Although our muscles depend on oxygen there is another phenomenon that occurs when oxygen levels fall – the brain itself begin to shut down our muscles, making us move slower.

Effect of graded hypoxia on supraspinal contributions to fatigue with unilateral knee-extensor contractions does not come trippingly off the tongue but this paper by Stuart Goodall Emma Z. Ross Lee M. Romer of the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University and Chelsea School Research Centre, University of Brighton, give an insight into the way in which the brain seeks to protect muscles when oxygen levels are low. Continue reading »

Jul 102011
 

SafeSpace member Javier Saavedra, AFNI, who is an international member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, ASSE, has brought attention to a per-reviewed article in Professional Safety, the ASSE journal: Confined Spaces: Common Misconceptions & Errors in Complying With OSHA’s Standard By Bill Taylor.

Says the introduction: “OSHA’s confined space standard is arguably among the most difficult of the agency’s standards to comprehend and with which to comply. What makes compliance so difficult? What is it employers are not doing? Common audit findings encountered are described to help employers improve their confined space systems, as are several misconceptions about the confined space standard itself”.

The paper s available free to ASSE members and $8 for non-members in PDF format.

Copies can be purchased here.

Jun 202011
 

New guidelines on tank entry tankers using nitrogen as an inerting medium have been released by the Internatonal Maritime Organisation. Nitrogen is used to prevent explosive atmospheres in tanks by reducing the level of oxygen as well as to ‘pad’ chemical cargoes against contamination.

A number of non-tank vessels use nitrogen for other purposes and the guidelines should also be applied in such cases.

Nitrogen not only displaces the oxygen need to live by also the carbon dioxide that triggers the breathing reflex.

Fatalities have occurred when seafarers have entered tanks which were wholly or partially inerted.

The guidelines point out that a deep breath of 100 per cent nitrogen will kill.

(Thanks to Jim Nicol of Newslink for bring this to our attention)

 

IMO Nitrogen guidelines download