CHIRP Report: Worker Trapped In Tank


By MarEx 2015-03-29 20:04:07

The latest newsletter from the Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) is available online

The aim of CHIRP is to seek out root causes for near misses, identify the lessons learned and to consider how best this information can be used to prevent reoccurrence elsewhere in the maritime industry. CHIRP does not seek to apportion blame to any company or individual(s). The term ‘whistleblowing’ is not one used in CHIRP as that is often used to cast blame on an organization or an individual.  

In this edition, one of the incidents that CHIRP discuses is a situation where a worker was trapped inside a closed tank. An AB closed the hatch cover of a ballast tank whilst a painter was still working inside the tank. The incident’s reporter said the lessons learned from the incident were that it is important to ensure that personnel involved in ballast tanks maintenance are fully aware and implement strictly the company’s procedures including:
● A team leader should be appointed who should confirm and report implementation of all safety measures prior to entry and during the works in the tanks.
● An effective communication system should be maintained between personnel working in the tank, deck personnel and bridge OOW.
● Entry time, persons entering and coming out should be reported/recorded.
● Entry should be only permitted under valid entry permit.
● Initial and repeated atmosphere checks should be carried strictly as required, by a responsible officer.
● Strict implementation of the PPE requirements.

CHIRP Comment: The lessons learned from the report are valid. The industry continues to see unnecessary loss of life whilst personnel are working in enclosed spaces, despite regulators raising awareness of the risks that have been well advertised for many years. IMO Resolution A.1050 (27) has guidelines on entry into enclosed spaces and the MCA publication MGN 423 (M) Entry into Dangerous Spaces should be read in conjunction with (Entry into Dangerous Spaces) Regulations 1988 and chapter 17 of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen. Note also the MAIB report on the SUNTIS published August 2014. Also MAIB Safety bulletin 2/2008 following the loss of lives on Viking Islay, Saga Rose and Sava Lake. P&I Clubs have also published comprehensive information on this subject e.g. The Standard Club.

CHIRP’s newsletter also has articles on the safety lessons learned from reports on:

    High Risk Personnel Transfer
    Contact during Ship to Ship transfer
    Disregarding TSS in Malacca Strait
    Power loss
    Tripping over towing wire during mooring operations
    Safety Concerns of Domestic Ferry
    Engineer bypasses safety lock on incinerator 
    Grease Tape on Wires
    Unsafe working standards by terminal staff when fitting CBM Hose
    Man overboard from a tender
    Design Issues with free fall lifeboats 
    Marine Operating and Maintenance Manuals  

As always, the success of the CHIRP program is directly related to the number of reports we receive, says Captain John Rose Director (Maritime) CHIRP. “Please use our online reporting program. The report is encrypted and strictly confidential.”

CHIRP now has 15 Ambassadors supporting the CHIRP and The Nautical Institute MARS scheme, their support has seen a significant increase in the number of reports received. However, we are still seeking volunteers from the Middle Eastern countries, India and Singapore. If you are interested in being considered for one of these roles, there are still vacancies, please contact

67,000 paper copies of Maritime FEEDBACK are distributed worldwide through: 
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