Jun 012015
 

Is there anything remotely ambiguous about the signage on this hatch-cover?  Why did three seafarers ignore them? Unfortunately the report from the Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation on three confined space deaths aboard the German-flagged general cargo ship Suntis does not tell us. Key questions remain unanswered but the circumstances are all too familiar.

Says the report “MV Suntis left the port of Riga in Latvia on 19 May 2014 and reached the port of Goole in the United Kingdom on the evening of Saturday 24 May 2014. The crew was composed of a 67-year-old German master, a 60-year-old German chief officer, and three Philippine seamen (38, 33 and 30 years old). The ship was laden with timber. Continue reading »

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Apr 102015
 

Following the deaths of two ship’s officers aboard the general cargo ship Sally Ann C off the West African coast seafarer’s union Nautilus International has called for the UK to lead a ‘new and concerted drive to end the appalling litany’ of seafarer fatalities in enclosed spaces.

Investigations into the incident – which took place off the coast of west Africa – are underway, but it is known that the chief officer and chief engineer died after entering a hold where timber was stowed and the second officer had to be rescued after losing consciousness when he went to the aid of his colleagues. Continue reading »

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Apr 022015
 

Two men, a Russian chief officer and a Ukrainian chief engineer have died in a hold containing timber while a third,  a Filipino second officer who attempted to rescue them collapsed by survived. The incident is under investigation by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch while the report will not be available for some time the incident does highlight the confined space hazards of timber in cargo holds  and the continuing problem of would-be rescuers being overcome while attempting to recover victims. Continue reading »

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Jan 272015
 

Three men lay more than a hundred yards from the thick torn metal that once covered the top forward ballast tank, they were dead.

In the gathering darkness, in the roughening seas around the ship, the bodies of four other men were being carried away on the current, three of them never to be found. Inside the gray powder-coated ballast tank, burned and injured one man lived. He would not survive his injuries.

The last sound he heard, if he heard it, before the massive explosion may have been the quiet pop of a light-bulb breaking…

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Nov 032014
 

The Case of the Silent Assassin has become a MAC classic confined space safety lesson.

An excellent live action/CGI video version has been produced by IDESS Interactive Technologies.

Ships are dangerous places for the badly trained, the unwary, the careless. In this case two seafarers were killed by almost nothing.

Pumpanddeck

The Pumpman and the Deckboy

We’ll call them Carlo and Rick. Not their real names but they were real people. Like one in five merchant seafarers around the world they were Filipino. Their forebears served the world’s fleets more than eight centuries ago, So, in a sense, the sea was in Carlo and Rick’s blood when they joined the Sapphire. Carlo was the Pumpman and keen to do his job well and impress the ship’s officers. In his sights, perhaps, was promotion: the ship’s third officer, also a Filipino, had been the ship’s pumpman on his previous tour. Part of Carlo’s duties was to clean the tanks after discharge to make them ready for the next cargo and he constantly worried about whether he’d cleaned them well enough. He talked about his concerns so often that the Italian Chief Officer the chief officer assured him “Don’t worry, we’ll still be friends even if the tanks aren’t clean”. Still, Carlo fretted about his tanks. Tanks, of course, are enclosed spaces and ten months before our story Carlo visited the ship’s library and borrowed videos on safe entry into enclosed spaces. Rick joined the Sapphire in the first week of March 1999 and Carlo seems to have taken the young seafarer under his wing. Like the other crewmen, who were also Filipino, Rick often wore a filter mask when handling smelly cargoes and carried the mask on his belt ready for use. Continue reading »

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Aug 142014
 

safespaceThree men died after entering a confined space aboard the German-flagged general cargo ship Suntis at Goole docks, Humberside.  Initial investigations by the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, show that signs were ignored, safety procedures were not followed and during the recovery of the three unconscious crewmen, safety equipment was used incorrectly and inappropriately.

MAIB has issued the following Safety Bulletin:

At approximately 0645 (UTC+1) on 26 May 2014, three crew members on board the cargo ship, Suntis, were found unconscious in the main cargo hold forward access compartment, which was sited in the vessel’s forecastle. The crew members were recovered from the compartment but, despite intensive resuscitation efforts by their rescuers, they did not survive.

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Aug 112014
 

safespaceOGP, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, has issued a safety alert following the death of a worker at a construction/rig repair yard in Singapore in May this year. The worker had entered an enclosed space which was inerted with argon gas for a welding operation.

Argon does not do much which is why it is useful in processes like welding where a non-combustible atmosphere is needed to prevent fire and explosions. It can also kill, as this case shows.

Too often there is more than one casualty. The first victim is joined by those who follow attempting a rescue. About two thirds of casualties are would-be rescuers.

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Jun 132014
 
EshcolReport

Tests showed that when the grill was lit the resulting flames were predominantly yellow. The grill was turned off following the activation of a personal gas detector which indicated that high levels of carbon monoxide were being emitted. Close inspection of the grill showed that the grill’s steel mesh was corroded and holed in several places

Two seafarers died of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst asleep on a fishing vessel in Whitby, which demonstrates that lessons over several years, warnings and alerts have had little impact. Poorly maintained equipment being used for purposes for which they were not designed. refusal to use alarms that save lives, on vessel not designed for people to sleep in lead to tragedy.

In the case of scallop-dredger Eshcol the two seafarers went to sleep tired and cold. doors and windows were closed. Heaters on the vessel did not work so to keep warm the seafarers lit the grill on the vessel’s four-year old cooker which had probably never been serviced. Neither the guidance for the installation of gas appliances on board small fishing vessels nor the cooker manufacturer’s instructions had been followed when the cooker was fitted. The metal gauze in the grill was holed and corroded, causing extraordinarily high levels of CO emissions.

Tests showed that when the grill was lit the resulting flames were predominantly yellow, indicating inefficient combustion. The grill was turned off following the activation of a personal gas detector which indicated that high levels of carbon monoxide were being emitted. Close inspection of the grill showed that the grill’s steel mesh was corroded and holed in several places Continue reading »

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Feb 112013
 
A Fuguro Oceanor Wavescan Bouy - hydrogen led to explosion

A Fugro Oceanor Wavescan Bouy – hydrogen led to explosion

Fugro Oceanor has issued a safety alert warning of the dangers of hydrogen-build up inside Oceanor Wavescan buoys following and explosion and fatality off the coast of Malaysia. The buoy exploded while a member of Fugro’s staff was attempting to open it with an angle grinder.

The buoy in question was deployed in August 2010, and visited for cleaning in November 2010. It was reported that the buoy was soiled with bird droppings. At some point after this, the maintenance program for the buoy was suspended. The program was re-established in 2012, and the accident took place on the initial maintenance cruise.

After retrieval onto the service vessel, the buoy was cleaned, and the task of opening the instrument compartment started. This compartment also holds the lead-acid battery packs of the buoy. Access to the instruments is gained by removing a circular lid which is secured by 16 bolts. The removal of the bolts had been completed, except for the last bolt which proved to be seized. The decision was made to free this bolt using an angle grinder. Only moments after applying the grinder, an explosion took place which resulted in the lid blowing open and the instrument modules and their mounting plate being projected outwards with great force. These items struck the Fugro employee, thus causing the fatal injuries. Continue reading »

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