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Chief engineer's standing orders for ships machinery operation

Working in ships' machinery spaces involves numerous hazards. It is an area full of various running and standby machinery that needs utmost care before handling. When the ship is at sea, it is the crew who operates and also takes care of ships' main engine, generators, air compressor, turbochargers, steering gears, various pumps & motors, etc. However, there involve many challenges to ensure operational efficiency and safety while working with these machines. Many accidents have been reported in ships machinery spaces not only from equipment breakdown but also due to human error.

Ships chief engineer is in charge of engine room operation, has a role to play, and ensures best management practices. Therefore, he needs to implement strict safety culture for all engine room operations. Relevant procedures, posters or caution signs and guidance concerning machinery equipment to be strictly followed to enhance personnel safety onboard and minimize human errors.

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The Chief Engineer should designate an engineer and an engine rating to carry out the watchkeeping in port and the onboard duty after consultation with the Master. He should deploy personnel for machinery operations in the engine room. If the vessel is at anchor, the Chief Engineer should ensure a watch order similar to that at sea as required, preparing for an emergency.

During machinery operations, the chief engineer should provide written instructions for watchkeepers. Such guidance should cover but not limited to following standard items. Each Chief Engineer may add specific details for a particular vessel. However, below are most common for all vessel types: The standing orders should be signed by all staff in the engine room. Deviations from these orders would be treated as non-conformities. A specific risk assessment should be done in every engine room to determine the potential for, and protection from, oil pressure reaching hot surfaces. Frequent checks concerning the condition of all hoses, joints, and fittings should be carried out, especially if an old engine is fitted. Proper housekeeping of the engine room should be followed, placing combustible materials, including wooden packages, away from possible ignition sources. Routine surface temperature measurements of critical parts of machinery to be performed regardless if efforts for shielding have adequately been carried out.

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