Something is deeply wrong with an industry in which so many can die so often in tragedies entirely avoidable. One death, three injured and one escape from a hold containing wood pellets aboard the Polish-flagged bulker Corina this week brings the number of confined space casualties to eleven within the past month. Such losses are unacceptable.
Three 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.
MAC has previously drawn attention to the hazards of wood pellets, only added to the IMO’s Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes , the BC Code, in 2005, BIMCO is also expressing concern about these hazards.
Says a BIMCO alert: “Although two investigations were carried out on the carriage of wood pellets, no intensive literature has been produced. Therefore, the information below is based on comments obtained generally regarding this commodity.
Wood pellets, produced from sawdust and wood shavings containing no additives or binders are not the same as wood pulp pellets, which are made of compacted wood chips. The shipment of wood pellets carries with it two main hazards: combustion hazards and carbon monoxide emissions.