Sharp increase in deaths in confined spaces

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According to a report from the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF, on accidents in confined spaces on ships, the number of deaths increased sharply during the past year. Since the first January 2018 until the mid-April this year, 16 port workers and 12 seamen died around the world as a result of suffocation or explosions in confined spaces. This should be compared with 145 reported deaths of this type of accident in the last twenty years. The reason for the sharp increase, according to ITF, is a combination of a lack of information on the risks and a lack of necessary equipment on some ships. Harmful atmospheres can be formed in confined spaces containing organic loads such as wood products, coal and grain – but also iron and gas. It also happens that there are more injured due to failed rescue attempts. One example of such an accident occurred on a bulk carrier in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 13 November last year. The vessel was at berth unloading timber when two port workers went into a confined space and lost consciousness. A member of the deck crew ran to the rescue. When the respiratory mask he was wearing was knocked to one side, he also lost consciousness. One more port worker was injured before the situation was under control. Two of the injured workers died. The latest fatal accident of this type in Sweden occurred in the port of Oxelösund in March last year. A temporary port worker in his 20’s died on a coal ship during the unloading process.


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