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For further details please refer to
  • Gard News 179, Dangers of enclosed space
  • Gard News 179, A fatal tanker accident
  • Gard News 179, Lack of air – the dangers of CO2
  • Gard News 179, A surveyor’s survival.

    Special care must be taken when entering enclosed spaces as lack of oxygen or the presence of toxic fumes may have fatal consequences for the persons entering. Every year seafarers fail to follow the correct procedures for entry into enclosed spaces and, as a consequence, a considerable number of deaths occur – all of which were avoidable. These tragic losses can be prevented if the crew or independent contractors carrying out such work strictly follow set procedures.

    Entry into enclosed spaces should be subject to a permit-to-work procedure. Prior to entering any enclosed spaces, including cargo holds, even for a short period of time or a superficial inspection, the following guidelines should be followed as a minimum requirement
  • careful planning according to the Critical Shipboard Operation Procedure under the Company’s SMS
  • the activity should be subject to a permit-to-work procedure
  • work should only be authorised by the responsible officer after satisfactory completion of safety checks in accordance with the permit-to-work procedure
  • the safety check results should be recorded in the appropriate forms
  • all personnel involved should be made aware of the risks of entering enclosed spaces
  • communication procedures must be agreed prior to entering
  • additional lighting must be provided
  • the atmosphere must be tested with properly calibrated instruments prior to entry
  • ventilation of the space should be carried out before entry and maintained during the works
  • breathing apparatus must be used if there is insufficient oxygen in the space
  • full rescue and resuscitation equipment must be available for immediate use at the entrance to the space, along with a standby man with means of communicating with the responsible officer.

    When conditions for entry have changed, especially where work has been interrupted for a period of time, the work permit previously issued is no longer valid and a new permit must be issued. The new permit must include the proper testing as described above.

    Entry should only be allowed if all safety precautions have been taken. Authorisation to enter should only be given after the responsible ship’s officer is satisfied that all precautions have been taken and are in accordance with the Company’s procedures.

    If someone does get into difficulty within an enclosed space, rescuers must not rush to their aid without first donning breathing apparatus.