The London P&I Club says a recent claims incident resulting in the deaths of two crew members on board a bulk carrier loaded with coal underlines the importance of proper crew training and awareness in relation to the dangers associated with entry into harmful hold atmospheres.
In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club reports an incident in which the deck crew on an anchored ship loaded with a cargo of coal for discharge were asked to obtain samples from each of the vessel’s cargo holds.
A misunderstanding occurred involving the method of sample collection to be employed and, when one of the cargo hatches developed a fault and failed to open fully, the sampling device used from the main deck was discarded.
A crew member entered the hold with the aim of collecting a sample, and unfortunately collapsed at the bottom of the ladder. The crew member had been seen entering the hold by a duty watchman on deck, who subsequently decided to enter the hold himself to effect a rescue.
Sadly, he suffered a similar fate. A full muster and enclosed space rescue was undertaken after the alarm was raised by the standby man on deck. Sadly, two fatalities occurred in this incident as a result of the inhalation of an oxygen-depleted atmosphere.
Ian Barr, Claims Director with the London Club Management team, said: “The incident highlights the importance of sound decision-making under such circumstances and the need for proper training of ships’ crews with regard to the potential dangers of bulk carrier hold atmospheres.”
The club has meanwhile reminded its members about new SOLAS Regulation, which came into effect on January 1, 2015. This requires that all persons involved in enclosed space entries, and/or those assigned enclosed space rescue duties, are required to take part in enclosed space entry and rescue drills at intervals not exceeding two months. The new SOLAS regulation prescribes both the frequency and content of such drills.
The London P&I Club has recently produced a new Bulk Carrier Hold Safety poster which it hopes will raise awareness of the circumstances under which it is safe to enter a cargo hold.