Posted on May 06, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
According to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), 2018 has seen a sharp increase in deaths due to confined spaces.
The maritime industry is of course no stranger to these types of accidents, but since January 2018, we’ve seen over 28 deaths due to asphyxiation, falls & explosion in confined spaces.
According to ITF, at least sixteen dock workers and twelve seafarers have lost their lives over the last 16 months in a confined-space related accident.
This marks a noticeable increase considering there’s only been a total of 145 casualties over the last twenty years.
ITF maintains that companies choose to save money rather than effectively train and equip workers to work in confined spaces. ITF imposed the need for the adoption of an industry-wide safety culture where workers take the time they need to vent cargo holds and ensure there is a sufficient level of oxygen before engaging in their duties.
“We know that maritime workers are generally aware of the risks associated with entry into confined spaces, but they may not be aware of the details and extent of the varied dangers posed by forest products, coal, iron ore, grains, gases and other cargo.
“It is not enough for a worker to rely on opening the hatches for 30 minutes and hoping for the best, or to do the best they can to protect themselves on their own. It is not enough for workers to take all available precautions but sometimes still be caught without sufficient protection by pockets of gases and lack of oxygen.
“The negligence of shipowners who disregard standard procedures and cost workers their lives must be met with a punishment proportionate to the lives lost,” an ITF representative said in a statement.
Both ITF Dockers and ITF Seafarers subsections of ITF will be working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and shipowners in order to ensure that regulations will be put in place to protect the lives of workers across the maritime industry.