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Hazardous atmosphere in confined space causes 3 fatalities

  • What happened?

    Three workers entered a vessel to clean water-based mud residue.

    15 minutes after entry, the standby attendants heard shouts and an alarm was raised.

    Rescuers with self-contained breathing apparatus retrieved the workers within 5 minutes, but all three workers had died.

    It is believed they died of carbon monoxide poisoning or oxygen deficiency.

    Manhole view showing inside a 6.8 metre deep tank confined space.
  • Why did it happen?

    The work was carried out under permit, but:

    • a gas reading had not been taken before entering.
    • the tank had not been well ventilated.
    • they were not required to use breathing apparatus.
    The ventilation equipment, rescue tripod and deck hatch above the vessel.
  • What did they learn?

    Complying with adequate work management standards would have mitigated high carbon monoxide or low oxygen hazards.

    Confined space hazards must be identified prior to start work:

    • hazardous atmosphere
    • entrapment and engulfment hazards
    • fire hazards
    • other serious hazards

    Ensure adequate barriers are in place:

    • air testing
    • permitting
    • entrant training
    • isolation
    • rescue provisions
    What learn - icon
  • Ask yourself or your crew

    What other actions could have been taken?

    How can something similar happen on our site?

    How do we ensure that all potential hazards are taken into account before issuing a work permit?

    What controls do we have in place to prevent this today?

    What improvements can we make to these controls?

    Ask your crew - icon
Published on 23/05/19 419 Views 3 likes

Three workers lost their lives during a vessel cleaning operation. It is believed they died due to carbon monoxide poisoning or oxygen deficiency.