A ship is a complex structure from inside with several small and enclosed spaces. Many of these enclosed spaces are used for installing some machinery or for storing machine parts or workshop equipments. A ship has a matrix of pipelines which runs through each of its parts, including enclosed spaces.
But that is not the point of discussion here. An enclosed place can be used for several reasons; however, the main issue arises when one has to enter these enclosed places in order to do some repairing work or for cleaning purposes.
Because of zero ventilation, these enclosed places generate and store toxic gases which are either produced from chemicals stored in the place or leakage from pipelines. If a person enters such place without taking precaution, he or she may suffer unconsciousness and sometimes even death.
In order to prevent such unfortunate circumstances there is a proper procedure that needs to be followed for safety and wellness of the person entering the enclosed space.
Procedure for Entering an Enclosed Space
The following are the points that need to be followed before entering an enclosed space:
- Risk assessment to be carried out by a competent officer as enclosed or confined space entry is deficient in oxygen, making it a potential life hazard.
- A list of work to be done should be made for the ease of assessment for e.g. if welding to be carried out or some pipe replacement etc. This helps in carrying out the work quickly and easily.
- Risk assessment also needs to be carried out. Risk assessment includes what work to be done, rescue operation etc.
- Potential hazards are to be identified such as presence of toxic gases.
- Opening and securing has to be done and precaution should be taken to check if the opening of enclosed space is pressurized or not.
- All fire hazard possibilities should be minimized if hot work is to be carried out. This can be done by emptying the fuel tank or chemical tanknearby the hot work place.
- The confined space has to be well ventilated before entering.
- The space has to be checked for oxygen content and other gas content with the help of oxygen analyzer and gas detector.
- The oxygen content should read 20% by volume. Percentage less than that is not acceptable and more time for ventilation should be given in such circumstances.
- Enough lighting and illumination should be present in the enclosed space before entering.
- A proper permit to work has to be filled out and checklist to be checked so as to prevent any accident which can endanger life.
- Permit to work is to be valid only for a certain time period. If time period expires then again new permit is to be issued and checklist is to be filled out.
- Permit to work has to be checked and permitted by the Master of the ship in order to work in confined space.
- Proper signs and Men at work sign boards should be provided at required places so that person should not start any equipment, machinery or any operation in the confined space endangering life of the people working.
- Duty officer has to be informed before entering the enclosed space.
- The checklist has to be signed by the person involved in entry and also by a competent officer.
- One person always has to be kept standby to communicate with the person inside the space.
- The person may also carry a life line with him inside.
- The person should carry oxygen analyzer with him inside the enclosed space and it should be on all the time to monitor the oxygen content. As soon as level drops, the analyzer should sound alarm and the space should be evacuated quickly without any delay.
- No source of ignition has to be taken inside unless the Master or competent officer is satisfied.
- The number of persons entering should be constrained to the adequate number of persons who are actually needed inside for work.
- The rescue and resuscitation equipment are to be present outside the confined space. Rescue equipment includes breathing air apparatus and spare charge bottles.
- Means of hoisting an incapacitated person should be available.
- After finishing the work and when the person is out of the enclosed space, the after work checklist has to be filled.
- The permit to work has to be closed after this
The above mentioned procedure is extremely important to entering an enclosed space. These points are imperative to risk any crew member’s life while entering a confined space.
You may also like to read Procedure for cleaning Boiler on ship.