Paris MOU Will Target Enclosed Spaces

enclosed space entry

Published May 26, 2015 8:41 PM by Wendy Laursen

The Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MoU) held its 48th Committee meeting in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, last week, confirming the subject of its 2015 Concentrated Inspection Campaign.

High importance was given to the Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (CICs) at the meeting, and jointly with the Tokyo MoU a CIC on crew familiarization for enclosed space entry is scheduled from September to November this year.

In January 2015 enclosed space entry drills and training every two months became mandatory under amendments to SOLAS.

Change Needed

More people die or are injured in enclosed spaces than through any other related onboard work activity, said David Patraiko, The Nautical Institute’s Director of Projects at an education session back in 2013. The largest problem is with spaces which are not perceived as dangerous – anchor lockers and deck stores which may suffer from oxygen depletion, for example. The issue persists despite numerous guidelines, safety regimes, operational procedures manuals and assurance surveys. If this is to change, there are four major areas which need to be tackled, states The Nautical Institute:

Culture: Safety culture needs to be implemented at all levels, starting from the top. Adopting a shipboard enclosed space management plan based on onboard audits is a good new initiative. Procedures for Permits to Work need to be addressed.

Design: Shipboard design and operation should minimize the need to go into enclosed spaces in the first place; escape possibilities should be designed in.

Equipment: In many cases, crews are expected to use equipment that is not fit for purpose, or that is complex to use. In particular, firefighting equipment is not suitable for evacuating casualties from enclosed spaces.

Training and Drills: Good, frequent training is needed. This is a human element issue; only by working with the human element can it be solved.

Accidents Continue

Reports of enclosed spaces incidents are freely available in the database of the Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS). Type enclosed spaces into the keyword box.

In a recent enclosed space accident, four people were found unconscious in the cargo hold of a general cargo ship in Hanstholm, Denmark, in April. One man died, and the others were hospitalized as a result of wood pellet cargo handling operations on the 7,500dwt ship Corina arriving from Poland. The men are believed to have been affected by the low oxygen atmosphere possibly caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide in the enclosed space of the cargo hold.

In a separate accident earlier that month, three men died after entering the cargo hold of a ship in the Port of Antwerp. In this instance the cargo had been coal.

CIC for 2016

The Paris MOU committee also decided that, after the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC2006) in 2013, a CIC will be carried out in 2016 to verify compliance with the convention. The questionnaire and guidelines for this CIC have been completed and adopted.

Secretary General Richard Schiferli expressed the view of the committee that the decision demonstrates the importance to the Paris MoU of decent working and living conditions on board ships, and its commitment to ensuring that seafarers’ rights are respected.

2014 CIC

The report of the CIC on STCW hours of rest, carried out in September to November of 2014, was presented at the Paris MOU meeting with the committee expressing concern that during the CIC, which was publicized in advance, 912 deficiencies were recorded related specifically to STCW hours of rest and that 16 ships were detained as a result of the CIC.