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Importance of Risk assessment at the scene of Entry into enclosed spaces

An enclosed space on board a cargo ship might be defined as any enclosed nature compartment where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances or dangerous conditions such as lack of oxygen. Some enclosed spaces are easy to identify, for example, enclosures with limited openings such as ballast tanks. Others may be less obvious, but can be equally dangerous, for instance, unventilated or poorly ventilated rooms. Entry into enclosed spaces onboard cargo ship continues to rise as a potential threat for crew safety. We have summarized below some critical elements of the enclosed space entry and risk assessment process.

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Respiratory hazard

The Risk assessment should be assessed for at least below Respiratory hazards:
  1. Hydrocarbon vapors, such as butane and propane
  2. Oxygen deficiency caused by the presence of other vapors (including IG) oxidation (rusting) of bare steel surfaces, or by microbial activity
  3. Solid residues from particulars, such as those from inert gas, asbestos, welding operations and paint mists
  4. Toxic contaminants associated with organic vapors, such as Aromatic hydrocarbons, Benzene, Toluene, etc.
  5. Toxic gases, such as Benzene, Hydrogen sulfide and Mercaptan.

For additional tasks required at the scene of Formal Risk assessment following should be considered:
  1. Degree of familiarized and confidence on the use of breathing apparatus and other Respiratory Protective equipments with persons concerned.
  2. Existing ignition hazards in the space
  3. The possibility of build-up explosive atmosphere, within the enclosed space
  4. Appropriate measures to where the persons are whilst inside the space
  5. Emergency procedures of Evacuation and Rescue from the space

Control of Entry into Enclosed spaces

The master and Responsible officer are responsible for determining whether entry into an enclosed space may be permitted with ensuring following Safeguards:
  1. Ventilation: The space has been thoroughly ventilated by mechanical or natural means.

  2. Testing atmosphere: The atmosphere of the space has been tested for oxygen by volume, for HC(Hydrocarbon) gas at different levels by volume and LEL, and in case of cargo oil tanks and cargo pump-rooms, for any toxic gases. ( It may be required basis conclusive evidence on MSDS of the last cargo carried). Such periodic testing is to continue and be recorded on the permit at suitable intervals for the duration of work. When tests are being carried out from the deck level, mechanical ventilation should be stopped. A minimum period of about ten minutes should be allowed to elapse before readings are taken. Designation for the testing interval shall be decided at the scene of the Informal Risk Assessment before entering.

  3. use-good-ventillation-in-an-enclosed-space-prior-entering
    Make adequate ventilation prior entry

  4. Rescue and resuscitation equipment in place: Rescue equipment, such as approved SCBA, Life-harness complete with Lifeline and Full charged approved safety torch, EEBD, etc. and resuscitation equipment has been kept at the entrance to the space for use in emergency.

  5. Isolating from source of hazards : Any valves serving the space have been secured against accidental

  6. Watchman in place: A linkman posted at space entrance to maintain continuous communication with the persons inside and with the responsible officer.

  7. Designated communication interval: Shall not beyond every 15min.

  8. Adequate illumination: Adequate illumination, including movable lighting where is applicable, are ready for extended entry periods. Note: In general, a portable backup flashlight should always be carried when the entry is into confined spaces.

  9. PPE use: The personnel entering the space are wearing proper PPE, including Approved safety torches, Approved UHF radio, and where practicable, Personal gas detector and Safety harness with a lifeline. If a person enters with lifelines, Lines of communications should have been established and are understood by all concerned.

  10. Safety tag for entry control: For the identification of names and times of entry, a copy of the Enclosed Space Entry Permit should be posted near the entrance.

Display Of posters: Posters showing enclosed space hazards should be displayed at the entrance to the pump room, holds, and other appropriate spaces.

Permits duration of the validity : The Entry permit should be issued immediately before the work is to be performed. The duration of their validity shall not exceed 24 hrs.

Procedure for working in an enclosed space in a cargo ship

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