More people die or are injured in enclosed spaces than through any other related onboard work activity – this despite numerous guidelines, safety regimes, operational procedures manuals and assurance surveys.

The Nautical Institute will take advantage of the opportunity presented by the inaugural London International Shipping Week to be held from 9 to 13 September to highlight the issues around enclosed space incidents.

As part of the London event, the Institute’s London Branch is to hold a day of education, awareness and training in conjunction with Mines Rescue Marine at North West Kent College, SusCon Campus, on 11 September. This follows a well-attended seminar held by the North of Scotland Branch for the offshore industry last year, as reported in the November 2012 issue of the Institute’s magazine Seaways.

The Nautical Institute continues to be at the forefront of addressing the issue at the IMO and has been leading the call for the mandatory carriage of oxygen meters onboard all vessels. Mandatory entry and rescue exercises onboard vessels will soon be added to SOLAS. In addition to its input to IMO, the Institute will continue to use the full range of its activities (including publications, seminars and web forums) to eradicate the needless deaths and injuries arising from entry into enclosed spaces.

Disseminating best practice is central to the Institute’s work and the day will include a practical demonstration of the training procedures required and training for personnel who may have to rescue a colleague from an enclosed space.

Establishing set drills and procedures for entry into enclosed spaces is not enough to bring about the culture change in everyday work practice that is needed. It has to be second nature for everyone to stop, think and act safely. Thatmeans workers must be properly trained in the risks of confined spaces and the employer must demonstrate due diligence and safety leadership when planning and assigning tasks.

Writing in this month’s issue of the Institute’s publication Seaways, Michael Lloyd FNI, Marine Adviser at Mines Rescue Marine, emphasised the need for a culture change in everyday work practice at all levels. “Perhaps placing a safety poster in the boardroom as well as on the ships, and organising a visit to a double bottom space by the Chief Executive would have more effect on dealing with this problem, and help establish a safety culture in the marine industry rather than the existing legislative culture.”

In his opening remarks as chairman of the North of Scotland Branch seminar, Captain Robbie Middleton FNI commented that “it is usually during casual maintenance and repair that our eye may come off the ball and produce a danger scenario.” He went on to quote the summing up made by a judge in a recent offshore platform fatality: “all of the available pieces of the safety jigsaw were available to personnel but no-one stopped to put the pieces together.”

For more information please contact Harry Gale FNI, Technical Manager, The Nautical Institute +44 (0)20 7928 1351, . Or register online at http://nilbenclosedspaces2013.eventbrite.co.uk/

Reports of enclosed spaces incidents are freely available in the database of the Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS) at http://www.nautinst.org/en/forums/mars/search-all-mars-reports.cfm . Type enclosed spaces into the keyword box.