We are all familiar with, and rather tired of, lifeboat hazards but a safety alert from the US Coast Guard combines that with confined space risks, too. Yes, in certain circumstances a lifeboat can be a confined space.
A Port State Control inspector was on board a tanker to conduct a examination. In anticipation of the examination, the crew opened the hatch to the freefall lifeboat to let it air out. As the inspector entered the lifeboat his gas meter alarmed and he quickly exited. Upon investigation, it was confirmed with ship’s equipment that carbon monoxide had collected in the lifeboat.
Wind conditions had been blowing exhaust from the main stack into the lifeboat. Although not a confined space by OSHA or Coast Guard standards, the risks were the same.
The proper use of a gas meter likely prevented tragic consequences. The US Coast Guard strongly reminds all shipboard personnel and those associated with inspections, surveys or audits of vessels worldwide, that hazardous atmospheres are frequently present onboard vessels and
pose a great risk to personal safety. Besides the use of a personal gas meter for immediate protection, all organizations should have policies and procedures in place that address accessing these areas and make available the appropriate safety equipment for personnel.