The London P&I Club has noted that reports generated during the club’s ship inspection programme show an increase in negative findings in relation to enclosed space entry on board ships. It says that, despite a global acceptance of industry standard procedures, incidents continue to occur year-on-year.
In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club notes “Inspection findings vary in nature, but the enclosed space entry permit to work (PTW) and associated prescribed steps regularly present themselves as sources of negative findings in ship inspections. Even when fully completed PTW forms are presented, inspectors are repeatedly presented with: completed single PTWs which purport to cover entry into multiple enclosed spaces; checklists fully completed and signed off by the responsible officer and master, but the required safety equipment is not actually in place; no evident consideration of how a rescue would be undertaken from the space in the event of an emergency; no provision for continuous monitoring of the atmosphere of the space; oxygen/gas detection equipment presented in either a dubious condition or without proper evidence of calibration to statutory requirements.”
The club adds: “An alarming trend of tick-box culture has recently been detected in routine ship inspections. The importance of proper consideration of the steps which are required for an entry permit to be granted should not be overlooked. The exact requirements for each enclosed space entry will vary depending on, amongst other things, the location on board, the status of the ship, concurrent work, the previous contents of the space and the type of work to be conducted in the space. For this reason it is not acceptable practice to allow a single permit to apply to multiple space entries, particularly when these spaces are of a different designation.
“The officers in charge of the operation should always focus on their primary responsibility, which is to ensure that the operation is conducted as safely as practicable. However, should any further motivation be required, the club is aware of at least one case where a responsible officer faced criminal charges for allowing an operation to be conducted in an unsafe manner – despite having signed the paperwork suggesting that all necessary safety precautions were in place.”