Crowcon – a world leader in portable and fixed gas detection instruments – announces that its portable gas detectors are now approved by the Marine Equipment Directive (MED) for use in confined spaces aboard ships.
The atmosphere in any confined space in a ship is potentially dangerous: it may be deficient in oxygen and/or contain flammable or toxic gases or vapours. According to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), accidents in confined spaces continue to be one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities on board ships due to:
- Complacency leading to lapses of procedure
- Lack of knowledge
- Potentially dangerous spaces not being identified
- Would-be rescuers acting on instinct and emotion rather than knowledge and training
Avoiding confined spaces is always the best option. If access is needed for maintenance, inspections or other essential tasks, however, all necessary precautions must be taken. The MAIB says ship owners and operators should:
To this end, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) recommends all vessels to carry a minimum of two portable gas detectors, configured for LEL (Lower Explosion Limit) and O2. Other detectors may be required depending on the cargo being carried.
Any EU-registered vessels are also required to only carry gas detection equipment that conforms to Council Directive 96/98/EC on Marine Equipment, otherwise known as the Marine Equipment Directive (MED).
The ideal confined space gas detector for ships should be:
- Compact and lightweight
- Easy to use with one-button operation
- Have a bright display
- Have powerful audible and visual signals to warn when pre-set gas levels are reached
- Tough and waterproof, with impact-resistant casings and a high degree of ingress protection
Personnel working in cramped, confined spaces, perhaps in the dark, should be faced with nothing more daunting than a clear display, simple, one-button operation and loud/bright alarms.