Questions and answers about enclosed spaces

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What is an enclosed space?
Enclosed spaces often have small openings; they’re difficult to get in and out of, have little or no ventilation and are not intended for long-term work.
Give examples of enclosed spaces!
Holds, stairwells and storerooms next to holds, fuel oil tanks, ballast tanks, waste tanks, water tanks, double bottoms, compressor rooms, chain boxes, fore propeller rooms, containers and carbon dioxide stores.
What are the risks of working in enclosed spaces?
Dangerous fumes or gases can lead to irritation in the eyes and throat, vertigo, shortness of breath, confusion or loss of consciousness. Changes in the oxygen content of air can also cause problems. Air usually contains 21% oxygen by volume. Higher oxygen levels mean that combustible matter is easily ignited. Lower oxygen levels can produce symptoms such as fatigue and increased pulse rate. Inhaling dust that contain micro-organisms such as bacteria or fungi can lead to toxic or allergic reactions. Micro-organisms multiply in warm, humid environments given the right surface to grow on. If dust is dry and combustible there is a risk of fire or a dust explosion.
Give examples of cargoes that can generate hazardous atmospheres.
Timber, pellets, wood chips, coal, metal, oil, fruit, cereals, fish and other organic substances.
When is there a risk of low oxygen levels?
Oxygen is consumed during slow combustion and low air circulation and hazardous gases build up over time. Unventilated water tanks can also be a problem since oxygen dissolves easier than nitrogen in water. The breakdown of organic material by micro-organisms like bacteria and fungi uses up oxygen. The process of rusting.
Is there anything else you want to know about enclosed spaces?
You can read the Work Environment Authority’s Occupational Exposure Limit Values (AFS 2015:7) and Chemical Hazards in the Working Environment (AFS 2011:19). You can also search the IMO website for Resolution A 1050(27) Recommendations for entering enclosed spaces aboard ships. The Swedish Transport Agency also plans to publish infor-mation on enclosed spaces on its website.
Source: Swedish Transport Agency

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