As more needless deaths in enclosed spaces are reported this week – but yet again fail to make headines – a call to action is needed and the industry must take note and bring this issue to the attention of each and every seafarer.
“More must be done, ” says Nigel Cleave, CEO of Videotel. “Every seafarer should be made aware of the risks of enclosed spaces – indeed have the message reinforced at every opportunity – there is no justification for another death. The legislation is in place; by law vessels should have the proper equipment in place, and yet time and time again seafarers fail to use the protection available to them and another preventable death is in the news.”
Of course with such a history of repeated, tragic accidents – reported almost routinely in the maritime press – something must change. The Marine Accident Investigators International Forum has identified that accidents in enclosed/confined spaces continue to be one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities on board ships today.
“The psychological imperative to rescue a fallen seafarer is very strong, ” explains Mr Cleave. “So often we see multiple casualties, with the first seafarer collapsing and his colleagues immediately rushing to his aid and subsequently being overcome. This is the very reason we choose video as the medium for Videotel’s courses in this area. It makes a unique emotive connection with the seafarer, ensuring that the proper safety procedures – and the reasons for them – stay in the mind even under the stress of an emergency situation.”
Ironically, the psychological make-up that causes the seafarer to rush in after colleagues, fails to kick-in to prevent the casualty in the first place. Seemingly innocuous cargoes – timber, charcoal, steel – have all taken their toll on the lives of seafarers and continue to do so. Training each and every individual is absolutely paramount – humans do not possess an intuitive fear of some of the most dangerous cargoes, and it is essential that they are properly trained to be cautious.
Videotel Marine International has a history of commitment to this very issue. It has worked in partnership with a number of industry bodies, including Mines Rescue, to develop the Entry into Enclosed Spaces series, a comprehensive programme consisting of the original six modules, an accompanying CBT course and a soon to be released video covering working in enclosed spaces. Videotel is continuing to develop programmes in this important area to ensure maximum impact on its seafarer audience, and to raise awareness of this serious issue with ship owners and ship managers around the world.