31 Oct 2023

Stopping a Killer 

Death In Enclosed Spaces

At an IMO meeting in September, the Container and Carriage of Cargo Sub-Committee (CCC9), approved a work package, driven by the Human Element Industry Group, of which the IMarEST is a leading member, on reducing enclosed space deaths.  This package substantially re-writes the regulations for entering enclosed spaces (IMO document AI050 which was introduced in 2010).    

Martin Shaw, the IMarEST President, who has been actively working with the Human Element Industry Group over the last few years, says: “Deaths from enclosed space entry is believed to be the biggest occupation killer in the shipping industry. After reading the IMO A1050 document and identifying a number of flaws, the HEIG commenced a project to ‘attack’ this hazard on a broad front based on the hierarchy of hazard controls.  I am delighted that this work and the evidence we submitted to September’s meeting has been supported, indeed the draft revision proposed by the Industry Group was accepted as the starting point for the revision.   Following some work at the meeting a correspondence group has been formed to complete this work.  A group of IMarEST members will be working on this group supported by the Executive. 

Martin adds: “There has been a great deal of support and work by many IMarEST members on this project and our contributions include general support for the paper and introduction of new definitions, technical solutions, and the creation of an enclosed space register and system for classification of the risk in enclosed spaces. Very importantly, we also introduced research by IMarEST member Donal Burke on oxygen depletion and biological cargoes. This research is world changing and Donal presented to the working group. Flag states are already issuing guidance based on that work. This is an example of the great work that IMarEST volunteers do” 

The HEIG is working on several other projects on enclosed spaces   A ‘proposal for an output’ for a circular on time pressure was approved at the IMO Marine Safety Committee at the beginning of June. (MSC 107). While the timescale is uncertain, the industry group is working on a draft circular which may be presented informally at the next Human Element Training and Watchkeeping Sub-Committee.  The HEIG will shortly publish three free guides on time pressure in the maritime industry as part of this project. 

Each guide aims to help maritime professionals understand the role time pressure plays in contributing to maritime incidents. They feature information on recognising stress, setting realistic timelines and deadlines, advice and guidelines for reducing this pressure. Time pressure is a major factor in many incidents and costs lives. It is vital that we raise awareness of the issue and provide guidance for professionals working at all levels across the maritime sector so that we have a visible culture of safety that is lead from the top.”  

Martin concludes: “The IMarEST has been a leading contributor to the Human Element Industry Group work for some time now, so it is exciting to see this work coming to fruition.  Several IMarEST special interest groups have been involved with this project and made significant contributions to the output. This is an example of how IMarEST volunteers can make the shipping industry a safer place of work and all volunteers can take part in this type of work.  The way into this kind of work is to join a SIG that interests you, if there isn’t one then you can even set one up if you can find some likeminded colleagues.”