Jun 092011

Nothing was learned from the report by New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission on two fatalities aboard the TPC Wellington bulker except that lessons are not being learned about the dangers of confined space entry. A chief officer with plentiful experience in the particular cargo loaded, logs, entered a confined space, collapsed, followed by another member of the deck crew. Both died in less than 10 minutes.

Neither the ship’s owner, nor those in command of the vessel, had equipped the crew with the awareness or training to enter the space safely or to be rescued should an incident occur.

The scenario is frustratingly familiar. It is one that will continue to kill seafarers in large numbers until the maritime industry as a whole, from those working on deck to those commanding multi-million dollar enterprises, in the public and private sectors, as well a professional organisations and labour unions come together to make forceful efforts to reduce this unacceptable toll.

In its summary of the report TAIC says: “On the afternoon of 3 May 2010, the bulk log carrier TPC Wellington was loading logs in Port Marsden, Northland. When the chief officer entered a cargo hold that was full of logs that had been loaded at a previous port, he rapidly lost useful consciousness (lost the ability to hold on to the ladder) and fell from the ladder onto the cargo below. Continue reading »

Jun 062011

Investigations continue into the explosion and fire at a sullage plant on Gibraltar’s North Mole. The incident resulted in the injury of two welders who had been working on the tank, one of them life-threatening, and minor injuries to 12 passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. It is a reminder of the hazards that may exist in confined spaces that must be accounted for when hotwork is conducted.

Two recent incidents present similarities to the Gibraltar incident. In one, an oiler tried to cut the top off a drum that contained a mixture of carbon residues and traces of mineral oil. The oiler died in the resultant explosion. The sullage tank in Gibraltar also contained water and a hydrocarbon – used fuel oil. As in the drum incident, it may be that the water-oil mixture separated and allowed explosive vapours to build up within.

In a second incident,flammable gas from an unlit welding torch appears to have leaked and pooled in the bottom of a cargo tank while workers were taking a break from stitching plate at the upper part of the cargo tank.

While the Gibraltar explosion and fire took place onshore it remains a lessons for those working onboard ship.

Jun 052011

From Tom LittlePage:

Here is a short list of accidents which have happened during the past week or two. They might make decent current examples for those who do confined space training. Though easily predictable and preventable, these incidents are not uncommon.

2 fatalities in Barge paint vapor explosion, Singapore. 1 photo.

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Jun 052011

Using a tool which generates heat, like an angle grinder, to remove the top of a 200 litre drum may be dangerous, particularly if the drum has previously contained a flammable liquid. The drum is an enclosed space, and the application of heat from a cutting tool on the outside of the drum, will potentially vaporise any flammable residue inside and provide a source of ignition the resulting air/fuel mixture. So warn the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in its report of the death of an oiler aboard the Cape Darnley on 8 July 2010.

In this case the drum had previously contained Mobilgard 412, a mineral oil, and had not been cleaned or rinsed out. Later in was filled with up to 70 litres of waste water and carbon residue from an exhaust gas boiler clean. sealed and kept in the engine room for seven days. During that time oil/carbon residues separated from the water and floated on top of it, producing an explosive vapour.

When the angle grinder was used to remove the top of the drum the vapour ignited resulting in the fatal explosion.

The most immediate lessons are that closed drum should be opened, rinsed thoroughly and left with the cap off to ventilate  and, preferably use something like a cold chisel rather than an angle grinder.

A second lesson, of course, is to be aware of the hazard and ensure that an appropriate job safety analysis is done.

Read the full report here.


May 302011

What happened?

This alert is to advise you on a fatality incident which occurred on 9th April 2011 in Indonesia.

Three workers lost their lives and one other narrowly escaped death when they entered a dewatering tank after initial preparation activities prior to a coil tubing well unloading operation.

One worker entered the tank initially and lost consciousness. The others entered to rescue him. The individuals were asphyxiated by Nitrogen. Continue reading »

May 282011
IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which met at the Organization’s London Headquarters for its 89th session from 11 to 20 May 2011, completed a packed agenda, including the development of interim guidance on the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships transiting the high-risk piracy area, the adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) concerning lifeboat release hooks, an agreement on the way forward with regard to the implementation of the Torremolinos Protocol on fishing vessel safety and the approval of a number of draft resolutions for submission to the IMO Assembly, to be held in November 2011. Continue reading »
May 012011

This tragic report comes from a concerned MAC subscriber and is a good case to use when discussing confined spaces with crew. Break it down into events and ask “what would you do in this situation”, the determined brother-in-law being a situation that you may havee to deal with.

M/V Melanie is a small inter island containership that is worked in the non-union section of the port of Miami FL USA using a gantry or shore crane. She is worked in the Caribbean using ship’s gear for the most part.

A 20′ ISO standard container of liquefied air-conditioning propellant came to the gate.  The tank was venting gas through an obviously altered relief valve.
The driver explained to the clerk at the gate, who had no HAZMAT training, that the venting was normal and harmless.  As the tank had the proper label and the documentation showed that it was a non-hazardous “green” gas in liquid form the clerk accepted the container into the terminal. Continue reading »

Apr 162011
MAC v0.1 Confined Space03 PBV.jpg

Eric-Christophe Berger of Total has contributed an in-house investigation into a confined space incident that cost the life of a
bosun and left an AB and Chief Officer hospitalised, victims of an attempt to rescue the wrong way. Fortunately the second officer had the presence of mind to take the correct action. An element was H2S possibly due to degradation of sunflower oil left over from a recent cargo, a pointer to beware of oganic materials in a space. Also oxygen levels were ‘adequate’ but the atmosphere was toxic. A report full of important lessons.

Contractors are not often mentioned in confined space training or advisories. Never assume third party contractors are safety savvy. We’ve added the Auk Arrow confined space explosion, the Bro Arthur fatality incident involving contractors under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The Case of the Benzene Bomber and The Case of the Forgotten Assassin are also relevant.

We’ve added The Case of the One-Way Assassin, a death in a scavenging air unit, as well as an incident of note in which scaffolding collapsed in a confined space.

If you know of confined space incidents or have reports about them that are not in our list please email us.

Membership of the SafeSpace Project is free – all we ask is for you to make a commitment to do something to help tackle the problem. Simply email safespace@maritimeaccident.org.

Those who have agreed to review the draft of the confined space book
will be receiving copies shortly.

Bob Couttie
Co-Ordinator, The SafeSpace Project

Apr 122011

Never assume that third party contractors will behave safely aboard your ship. Keep an eye on them. That is one of the lessons from Brazil’s investigation into a confined space explosion aboard the Bahamas-flagged tanker Auk Arrow in Rio De Janeiro in August 2010 in which three workers died and six injured.

Cutting and welding was being carried out on scaffolding erected inside the vessel’s No 2 ballast tank in the ENAVI shipyard. Hoses carrying liquid petroleum gas, LPG and oxygen, were connected to a manifold on the main deck and passed through a vent in the ballast tank. On the day of the incident work was stopped from 1700 to 2100 for meals. The hoses were left dangling in the tank. Some 52 minutes after work resumed there was an explosion in the ballast tank. Two workers were killed, seven were hospitalised due to injuries of whom one later died. Continue reading »