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Procedure to Enter an Enclosed or Confined Space in Ships

Updated on July 11, 2013
An "Enclosed Space Entry" Permit to be followed before man entry
An "Enclosed Space Entry" Permit to be followed before man entry

When it is necessary to enter an enclosed space, the following principal points should be observed.

  • Identifying potential hazards
  • Instituting and adhering to a grid 'permit to work' system
  • Ensuring that space is secure against ingress of injurious substances
  • Freeing the atmosphere of gas and removing sludge or other source of gas if necessary
  • Testing for the presence of toxic gases and / or oxygen deficiency
  • Instructing or training personnel in the safe conduct of the operation
  • Providing adequate safety operations
  • Organizing emergency rescue teams, first aid

Arranging regular drills will help to ensure that the necessary safety measures are consistently adopted. The master and responsible officers must be fully aware of any relevant hazards and the problems involved. Advanced planning, preferably in the form of a 'permit to work' is necessary to evaluate the situation and ensure that all the necessary safety measures and precautions are taken. If, during the course of operation, unforeseen difficulties or hazards develop, the work should be stopped if it is possible and practicable, so that the situation can be fully re-assessed. 'Permits to work' should be revised appropriately.

Responsible Person must be always stand by at the Entrance
Responsible Person must be always stand by at the Entrance

No person should enter an enclosed or confined space without the prior permission of the Master or a responsible officer, who should ensure that all necessary precautions are taken, as indicated above.

The space should be thoroughly ventilated by either manual or mechanical means before entry is made. Ventilation should continue during the period that the space is occupied and during temporary breaks, eg. meal times. In the event of a failure of the ventilation system, any persons in the space should leave it immediately.

Inside Top Side Tank
Inside Top Side Tank

Where practicable, the testing of the atmosphere of the space before entry for oxygen deficiency and harmful gas or vapour should be carried out at different levels. Further tests should be made periodically at appropriate levels whilst the space is occupied so that requisite action may be taken if conditions worsen.

Where the Master of officer in charge has doubts from the information available concerning the adequacy of ventilation or testing breathing apparatus should be worn by those entering the space.

In all cases rescue and, where available, resuscitation equipment should be ready for the use at the entrance to the space.

A responsible person should be in constant attendance at the entrance to the space during the period that it is occupied.

An adequate system of communication should be agreed and tested by all involved to ensure that those entering the space can keep in touch with the person stationed at the entrance.

If a person in the space feels himself in becoming in any way affected by vapours, he should give a pre-arranged signal to the person standing by at the entrance and immediately leave the space.

The officers on watch on the deck and in the engine room should be informed when any tank or compartment to be entered.

Precautions should be taken to safeguard the continuity of any air supply required for breathing apparatus with special attention given to supplies originating from the engine room. Suitable warning notices should be posted at appropriate positions.

When an enclosed space is unattended, the entrance to it should where practicable be closed or fenced off. A notice should be posted prohibiting all unauthorized entry.

Access to and within the space should be adequate and well lit. No portable lights or other electrical equipment other than of an approved type should be taken or put into a compartment until it has been positively ascertained that it is safe to do so.


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    • April Dawn Meyer profile image

      April Dawn Meyer 

      6 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      Wow, you are really knowledgeable in this field. I am very impressed. Thank you for sharing and I voted you up :)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      You were serious! Thank you for this.


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