Real Life Incident: Inspector Loses Life Entering Unlabelled Hold On Cargo Ship

The cargo ship had loaded maize and after a voyage of approximately six weeks arrived at the discharge port. Holds 3 and 4 were opened. A shore manager measured the oxygen content of hold 4 and found it to be normal. He hung a sign on the hold booby hatch entrance that indicated ‘Inspected – OK’. Before he could measure the oxygen content of hold 3 he was called to the ship’s office to discuss discharge details.

Meanwhile, a grain inspector had boarded the vessel and proceeded to enter hold 3 via the open booby hatch with the intention of taking the temperature of the cargo. He descended­ by a vertical ladder and then a spiral staircase. Once on the surface of the maize he collapsed and was spotted shortly afterwards by a stevedore on deck. The alarm was raised. While preparations for rescue were undertaken the shore manager measured the oxygen content in hold 3 and found it to be about 12%.

unlabled floor incident
Image Credits; nautinst.org

Later, rescue teams exited the hold with the unconscious grain inspector but the victim was declared dead.

Lessons learned

  • Even if the hold hatch has been opened, keep booby hatch access doors locked and sealed to prevent entry until the hold atmosphere has been tested and certi­fied safe by a competent person
  • Never enter an enclosed space before it has been tested for oxygen content
  • Even once tested and found acceptable, always wear a personal gas detector when entering an enclosed space.
  • Enclosed spaces are inherently dangerous and procedures for entry need to be followed. A person should be assigned to act as a watchman outside the space while entry into the space is attempted.

Reference: nautinst.org

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5 Comments

  1. most seafarers enters this cargohold while closed without ventilation they even clean it closed hatch( by chemical cleaning) in a rough weather condition. or even worst they go inside with a 90% cargo inside steping on the cargo and paint inside. this is because of captains order to the crew… i can’t blame filipino crew if they follow the order even if its dangerous because they are afraid not to comply. but if only theirs a law that if a captain ordered a dangerous task they can be strip of their licence that would be nice so they will do their job more active.

  2. For all confined space entry that requires prior isolation to be done, LOTOTO should be captured in the confined space procedure.
    Lock out
    Tag out
    Try out

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