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Safety on board tankers cannot be imposed by management. The owner's loss control manager can issue the world's finest safety policies and procedures, but they will have no effect if the master, officers and crew do not adopt the practices as part of their work routines. The master, officers and crew must be absolutely convinced of the owner's sincerity regarding the safety program. The owner should visit his vessels, to personally impress on the master and officers the importance of the loss control program.
Following that introduction, the performance of the ship should be carefully monitored to ensure that safety is not being compromised for the saving of time or expense, and that the owner's safety education/instruction program is being conducted and its lessons implemented in the daily work of the ship.

1.14.1 Tanker safety concerns
The owner's safety program should be designed to address all of the significant occupational risks to which the crew may be exposed. These include:

  • Explosion or fire hazards associated with the vessel's fuel.

  • Explosion or fire hazards associated with the vessel's cargo.

  • Toxic hazards of chemicals used on board.

  • Toxic hazards of the vessel's cargoes.

  • Rolling and pitching of the ship in heavy weather.

  • Operation of machinery, in normal conditions and in heavy weather.

  • Ice and freezing weather.

  • Exposure while working aloft, over the side, or in confined spaces.

  • Unsafe work practices and neglect of personal protective equipment.

  • It is the job of management to (initially), identify the principal areas of concern, and to put in place the necessary procedures and equipment to minimise the risks. It is the job of the master, officers and crew to diligently implement the safety procedures and to recommend changes or improvements in the safety programme to management.
    The mere posting of notices and provision of safety information is insufficient to protect the owner from liability and is not particularly effective in getting the information into the heads of the crew. A formal, periodic training program should also be in place, including maintenance of training records. Individual crew members must sign their training records at the completion of each unit of training. One method of promoting crew attention and interest is to make clear that failure to comply with the company safety requirements could affect the outcome of their claim for compensation in the event of an accident.

    1.14.2 Safety committee
    Implementation and improvement of the safety program will be most effective if an autonomous safety committee or safety discussion team is formed, with authority to report directly to the loss control manager ashore. The functions of the on-board safety committee/ team are to:

  • Prevent accidents or injuries to the crew and vessel.

  • Improve safety conditions on board.

  • Implement and enforce safety procedures on board.

  • Investigate and report on accidents or incidents with the objectives of determining cause (not fault!) and preventing recurrence.

  • Review and offer recommendations for changes to safety checklists.

  • The safety committee should participate in the scheduling of training, exercises and drills and discussions of the results of drills should be part of their reports to management. Drills should be conducted as indicated in section 1.4.4.
    The safety committee should ensure that all safety instructions, booklets and literature provided by management are prominently displayed on board and readily accessible to the crew.

    1.14.3 Fire prevention
    The chief danger to any ship is fire. On a tanker, there are more opportunities for fire due to the nature of the cargo, but the potential for engine room and accommodation fires is no greater than on any other ship type. Many tanker losses begin with a fire in the machinery spaces. To minimise the opportunity for machinery space fires, the following routine practices should be maintained:

  • Immediate clean up of any oil leakage and repair of the cause of the leak. This is particularly important if the leak is near any hot surface or source of ignition.

  • Waste oil must not be allowed to accumulate in the engine or pumproom bilges.

  • Frequent verification of proper function of remote controls and remote indicators.

  • Regular tests of vent dampers and closures to ensure that the air supply can be stopped in event of fire.

  • Regular inspections of unmanned machinery spaces.

  • Persons alone in machinery spaces must regularly communicate with the ECR watchstander or the bridge watch.

  • Boilers must be operated in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

  • Wood or fibreboard packing cases, paint, or tins of oil should not be stored in boiler flats, machinery spaces, pumproom, or in the steering engine room.

  • Smoking regulations and places must be established by the master and strictly enforced.

  • Personal electrical equipment must be inspected and approved by the chief engineer before being used on board.

  • All portable electrical appliances must be disconnected or well secured before the vessel departs port.
  • 1.14.4 Explosion hazards
    The basis for preventing explosions is the rigorous separation of sources of vapour from sources of ignition. Explosions occur when both of these means of prevention fail. Accidental or negligent uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons anywhere on a tanker can lead to introduction of their insidious vapour into any space. Following such an incident, the only protection against an explosion is the correct condition of the intrinsically safe and explosion-proof electrical equipment. For this reason, electrical wiring and equipment should be frequently inspected and any defective equipment disconnected at the source until it can be repaired. Exterior doors to the accommodation and machinery space must be kept closed at all times when not immediately in use.

    Sparks or heat sufficient to ignite an explosive vapour can also be caused by:

  • Defective electrical tools.

  • Tools being knocked together or dropped onto a steel surface.

  • Electrical motors and other equipment.

  • Spontaneous heating of oily rags or waste.

  • Aluminum or one of its alloys knocked against rusted steel.

  • Falling of anodes in cargo tanks.

  • Discharge of an accumulation of static electricity.

  • Non approved electrical appliances carried onto the main deck, such as photographic equipment, portable amplifiers, or portable radios.

  • Hot work permits must be prepared and approved for all welding, flame cutting, or hot work on board, whether in the machinery space or elsewhere. All requirements of the approved hot work permit must be observed, including proper fire watch, periodic testing of the space atmosphere for hydrocarbon vapours and regular inspection by the chief engineer or other qualified officer. Work permits should be valid for a maximum of 12 hours. The work permit must refer to an appropriate safety checklist to be completed prior to the commencement of hot work.
    Crew members should be made aware of the possibility of accumulation of hydrogen in cathodically protected ballast tanks. The hydrogen will accumulate in the upper section of the tank and present an immediate explosion hazard when the tank is opened. Precautions regarding ignition sources must be as strictly observed when opening and entering ballast tanks as when entering cargo tanks.

    1.14.5 Toxic hazards on board
    The purchase requisitions for all chemicals, cleaners and paints ordered for/by the ship must include provision by the vendor of several copies of the appropriate 'material safety data sheet' for the product. The data sheet must include a description of the hazards of the product and the antidote or treatment required for personnel exposure. If the antidote or treatment is not normally carried on board, it must also be made part of the order. Copies of the data sheet should be placed in the medical office, in the space where the material is stored and at the work station where it is normally used.
    The ship must be provided with appropriate organic respirators, dust masks, goggles, face masks, disposable coveralls, and protective gloves so that crew members can safely handle and work with the chemicals on board. Officers must ensure that the protective equipment is used where appropriate. Hand cleaner and neutraliser must be readily available to remove any accidental contact with the chemicals.
    Spray painting can expose crew members to a number of hazards. Airless spray equipment ejects the paint at very high pressure, sufficient to penetrate skin or cause severe eye injury. A suitable respirator must be worn. In some cases it may be necessary to use breathing apparatus. Likewise, respirators or breathing apparatus may be required for welding or flame cutting in confined spaces.
    The crew in general and the steward's department personnel in particular, should be educated regarding the danger of mixing different chemicals and the combinations of chemicals which are particularly dangerous.

    1.14.6 Toxic hazards of cargo
    No cargo should be loaded into a tanker unless the vessel has been provided with a material safety data sheet beforehand. If the cargo has not been previously carried, or if the ship has a number of new crew members, each watch officer should read through the data sheet with his watch to ensure that they fully understand the hazards and precautions for the cargo and the actions to be taken in the event of exposure.
    The crew should be aware that petroleum poisoning may occur orally, by inhalation, or by skin contact. The particular hazards of sour crudes (H2S) and the benzene/toluene type cargoes must be stressed to the crew each time those cargoes are carried. Adequate personal protection must be provided for crew while cleaning leaded gasoline tanks.
    The area of greatest danger during routine operations is the pumproom. Pumproom ventilation must always be in operating while handling cargo in port or while tank washing at sea.

    1.14.7 Work practices on board
    Each vessel must have a manual of standard safe work practices, particularly the preparations, precautions and procedures to be used when:

  • Vessel is rolling or pitching in rough weather.

  • Working aloft while underway at sea.

  • Work overboard in port.

  • Entering confined spaces (see section 2.15.8); the hazards of confined spaces must be recognised as applying not only to cargo tanks but to all spaces in the ship where oxygen deficiency may occur.

  • Individual crew safe work practices include:
  • Wear suitable, close fitting clothing; synthetic fibres should be avoided in preference to heavy-duty cotton coveralls.

  • Long hair must be restrained and kept under a cap or hardhat.

  • All jewellry and watches should be removed while working on deck or with machinery.

  • Wear hearing protection in all high-noise areas.

  • Wear a hardhat on deck, in tanks, or when others are working above.

  • Leather footgear with protective toes and non-slip soles must be worn while working.

  • Wear the proper industrial gloves for the chemical being used or work being performed.

  • Wear protective goggles or shields for grinding, chipping, welding, or using compressed air.

  • Check and obey all safety placards and notices.

  • Clean skin immediately of any exposure to harmful substances.

  • Report careless or reckless behaviour or work by any shipmate to the supervising officer.

  • Report defective or damaged equipment.

  • Safety harnesses must be worn and properly secured or tended while working aloft.

  • Personal flotation must be worn while working over the side of the vessel.
  • 1.14.8 Accidents
    Following any accident, the master must:

  • Ensure the safety of injured personnel.

  • Take action to minimise additional damage to the ship and to contain any existing damage.

  • As soon as practicable, gather evidence, photographs and statements necessary for the accident report.

  • Obtain necessary medical assistance from shore stations or by nearby vessels through the AMVER system.

  • Complete the necessary official notifications and reports.
    Vessel managers should provide the master with a checklist of actions to be taken in response to typical accidents.
  • 1.14.9 Firefighting and abandoning ship
    Detailed procedures for firefighting are beyond the scope of this book. However, it should be noted that successful firefighting efforts cannot be attempted unless the crew has been thoroughly trained in the use of their equipment and the strategies and tactics of team firefighting. Frequent and diligent training will provide the ship with fire teams who are capable of extinguishing all but the largest fires. Since a fire may occur under conditions where it is dangerous or fatal to abandon the ship, each crew member should appreciate that his life may depend on his individual contribution to the firefighting effort. In any marine accident, the vessel should not be abandoned hastily. Vessels often remain afloat long after their crews have been killed or injured while abandoning the deck or died from exposure in the boats. The master or chief officer must take the time to evaluate the stability condition of the vessel. Only when all efforts to save the ship are obviously futile should an organised, calm abandonment take place. If at all possible, the vessel should not be abandoned until a positive means of rescue is at hand.
    It is incumbent on all owners to provide each crew member with an appropriate survival suit, regardless of the absence of any regulatory requirement.

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