Confined Space Entry: U.S. Coast Guard Warns After Three Die Of Asphyxiation

The danger of confined spaces is in the news again after three crew members died of asphyxiation on a drilling rig.

They were part of a ten man team preparing equipment for heavy lift transport. After a de-ballasting system failed, they rigged a portable diesel engine pump to discharge tanks. Unfortunately, the hatches used for ventilation were inadequate and one of the crew collapsed after being overcome by fumes while supervising the operation.

The second and third victims died while attempting to rescue him after descending into the enclosed space without safety equipment. The Captain and Ship Superintendent narrowly escaped and were airlifted to hospital.

This is sadly typical of enclosed space fatalities and is similar to other recent accidents in Japan, UK, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia.

Because many toxic gases are colourless and odourless, it can be easy to miss the danger signals, especially if you’re under stress or focused on a complicated task. Rescuers are commonly the next victims as they react quickly – and usually in a state of panic – so they don’t follow essential safety procedures or use the necessary equipment. Studies suggest that over 50% of the deaths in confined spaces are the result of crew members attempting to rescue colleagues.

This latest incident has prompted the US Coast Guard to issue a Marine Safety Alert about the dangers of confined spaces. They advise:

  • Obtaining the requisite level of knowledge and training of confined space entry procedures including emergency and rescue procedures
  • Ensuring crews undergo periodic confined space training and participate in routine and practical onboard emergency drills
  • Verifying that all required confined space entry and rescue safety equipment is onboard, maintained, tested and fully functional
  • Continually appreciating the dangers involved in confined space entry and educating yourself by further study.

Modern vessels contain more enclosed spaces than ever before. This, combined with the pressures of larger loads, smaller crews and tighter turnaround times, means that deaths in confined spaces are still happening despite the IMO’s attempts to prevent them. The latest regulations require all SOLAS applicable vessels to carry portable gas detectors for monitoring enclosed spaces:

“Every ship to which Chapter 1 applies shall carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments. As a minimum, these shall be capable to measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. Instruments carried under other requirements may satisfy this regulation. Suitable means shall be provided for the calibration of all such instruments.”

Effective gas detectors and calibration instruments are essential on all cargo vessels. This equipment should also be as versatile and easy to use as possible so that all crew members are protected.

Contact us to find out more about keeping your crews safe in confined spaces.

10 reasons why you should be testing your sewage water

Marine pollution from sewage has always been one of the world’s most prominent ecological problems – in fact, reducing it was the first ever environmental initiative. New technology and regulations have been developing for over a century and will continue to do so in the future.

Here are ten reasons why testing sewage on your vessels is so important and how the new Sewage Effluent Testing Kit from Martek can help.

1.) Sewage water testing helps avoid health hazards

The pathogenic organisms, viruses and bacteria present in sewage can cause salmonella and hepatitis A and E as well as numerous gastrointestinal diseases and infections. Indirect contact is also harmful as many marine creatures filtrate seawater, retaining the dangerous particles which may then be passed on to those who eat them.

2.) Sewage water testing helps limit marine pollution

As well as the deeply unpleasant visual impact, sewage is also extremely damaging to sea-life – particularly in shallow seas and coastal areas. Because it uses up valuable oxygen in the water as it disintegrates, it can result in the suffocation of fish, coral, seaweed and micro-organisms essential to the eco-system

3.) Sewage effluent testing reduces downtime

If you carry out regular tests of your vessel’s sewage, you can identify issues much earlier and correct them with the minimum of difficulty. This is much more efficient than waiting until a problem develops as this may result in your system being out of action while it’s repaired.

4.) Sewage effluent testing reduces costs

Downtime means your vessel isn’t operating at maximum profitability. Repairing faults with your sewage system could have a major impact on your operations, something that can be easily avoided with regular testing.

5.) Sewage water testing ensures you’re compliant

More and more attention is being paid to sewage and its effects. This has resulted in more stringent quality standards and regulations – and these are likely to get even more comprehensive soon. A good sewage testing kit will keep you compliant with current legislation as well as helping to make sure you’re prepared for future changes.

6.) Testing your sewage is easy

The Sewage Effluent Kit from Martek provides a means of checking quality by using simplified methods of testing. To reduce wastage and keep your costs at a minimum, the kit contains only the most vital components that will allow you to carry out essential quality control checks.

7.) It’s quick to carry out a sewage water test

The kit provides simple tests for Permanganate Value, Ph, Suspended Solids, Probable BOC (Biochemical Oxygen Demand), COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and TOC (Total Organic Carbon). The tests provide measurements rapidly to keep your time and your costs down.

8.) Our Sewage Effluent Kit adds on to your existing Martek equipment

If you’re already using DrinkSafe for your potable water, the sewage testing kit fits alongside it for a complete water testing solution – the first and only combined package on the market.

9.) It’s familiar to existing Martek customers

There’s no formal training required for water analysis and, because your crew already know how DrinkSafe works, the procedure for testing sewage will be quick and easy for them to pick up. The tests are simple to perform and don’t use complicated equipment so they’re suitable for everyone to use.

10.) It’s from a supplier you can trust

Martek Marine is renowned for its expertise in ship safety and crew welfare and has a reputation that’s recognised across the globe. The world’s major ship operators trust our products to keep their ships and crew safe and improve their performance.

Martek’s Sewage Effluent Kit is the best on the market for value and quality. It will save you time and money and increase productivity.

Contact us to find out more.

The Problem with Portable Gas Detectors

Making sure your crew and your vessel are always safe from harmful gases is vital, so a portable gas detector is an important piece of equipment. However, there are many issues with the instruments that can cost you time and money if you don’t have the right kit.

Here are some of the problems – and the solutions offered by the MGC Simple+.

Battery life and charging


Traditional portable gas detectors have a pellistor/catalytic bead LEL sensor which uses a heated aluminium coil. It’s this element, in particular, that’s responsible for draining large amounts of power. Instead of the pellistor sensor, The MGC Simple+ uses a low-powered infrared light source which greatly reduces the drain on the battery – it’s like switching an incandescent light bulb for an energy efficient LED bulb.

The power saving is enough for the MGC Simple+ to last 3 years without charging. It works straight from the box and will easily allow for a bump test and a 1.5-minute alarm every day of its life.

Calibrating
Calibration and bump testing are crucial in traditional detectors because, over time, their performance becomes slower and gradually more unresponsive. This is down to the pellistor sensor which is susceptible to poisoning by many things, including the gases they are actually detecting. Once the sensor is no longer efficient, it needs to be replaced – a costly process which will leave your instrument out of action. You will also need extra equipment to cover gas detection while this work is being carried out.

Infrared sensors are completely immune to poisoning so this isn’t an issue with the Marine MGC Simple+ – there’s no need to calibrate at all.

However, some risk assessments and safe systems of work do specify that instruments must be calibrated. The MGC Simple+ can be set up to do this easily using one button operated dock which is capable of testing four detectors at the same time. This takes around 40 seconds and uses only around a quarter of the gas you need for individual calibration.

Working in inert environments

Pellistor sensors need a minimum of 10% oxygen in the environment – any lower and the readings may be inaccurate. Infrared doesn’t need oxygen, so the MGC Simple+ will work in completely inert atmospheres. This makes it ideal for confined space detection and taking samples from tanks where lack of oxygen is an issue.

Data Logging

Traditional portable gas detectors will log events, but many won’t log data. Data logging is important for all instruments as the gathering of information helps to improve safety and inform the investigation of incidents. The MGC Simple+ logs data every second and records the last 25 bumps, calibrations and events.

Repair Costs


As instruments get older, they begin to develop faults with their components – backlights, screens, sounders etc – they will all have to be repaired eventually. By the time a detector gets to three years old, most of the sensors will be reaching the end of their life and will need replacing.

The MGC Simple+ comes with a full three-year warranty, so you’ll never incur extra repair costs. At the end of those three years, you simply replace the whole instrument – a cheaper option than spending money maintaining an old detector. Buying a new instrument means you’ll also have a new three-year warranty so the instrument will always be covered.

The MGC Simple+ is the world’s first ‘NO calibration’ portable multi-gas detector.

NO calibration. NO charging. NO cost.

Contact us to find out more.