Spreading Culture


Enclosed spaces continue to kill.

It is concerning that despite the high-profile campaigns to tackle enclosed spaces and dangerous atmospheres, fatal incidents keep happening.

The circumstances surrounding these incidents vary and the reasons behind them are undoubtedly complex. It may be because the space was not considered to be dangerous or that the dangers were known but entry still went ahead.

Such incidents can be prevented by a competent and motivated crew supported by sensible safety management systems existing in a mature safety culture. But what about those who visit the vessel and do not share the same values?

Shore-based workers can fall victim to the dangers of enclosed spaces on board a vessel. It is therefore vital that the crew lead by example and not relax their standards to those of visiting third parties.

Spreading safety culture

Visitors to the vessel should be supervised at all times and be prevented from accessing areas where a dangerous atmosphere might have developed. Stevedores and any other shore workers should not be permitted to enter cargo holds without express permission from the officer in charge. Observant and vigilant deck rounds by crew will help identify any unsafe practices and prevent persons accessing unauthorised areas.

Visitors to the vessel should be in no doubt that unsafe working will not be tolerated. Providing safety instruction to visitors upon boarding sets the tone and shows them the expectations of the ship towards operational safety.

When working with surveyors or other contractors who require entry into a space with a potentially dangerous atmosphere, make sure all parties are involved and engaged in the toolbox talk.

Author: David Patterson
Loss Prevention Executive