Statutory Alert: New SOLAS requirements for enclosed space entry and rescue drills, and draft requirements for portable atmosphere testing


Confined-Space-Entry-Rescue-Training-Course3Applicability: All ships governed by SOLAS and all high speed craft, mobile offshore drilling units and dynamically supported craft

Because of the serious threat posed to people working in enclosed spaces on board ships, the IMO has introduced new requirements to SOLAS Chapter III, regulation 19, which enter into force on 1 January, 2015. From this date, crew members will be required to participate in an enclosed space entry and rescue drill on board the ship at least once every two months.

The IMO is also finalising mandatory requirements for portable atmosphere testing instruments to be carried on board ships. These are expected to be adopted in November 2014 for entry into force on 1 July, 2016, as SOLAS regulation XI-1/7. These portable testing instruments will not be used as part of personal protective safety equipment but as part of the ship’s equipment. They will be used to test enclosed spaces from the outside to make sure they are safe to enter and will cover, as a minimum, the following gases: oxygen, flammable gasses or vapours, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide.

The IMO will be issuing an associated circular providing guidance on selecting portable atmosphere testing instruments, which we will detail in a future Class News.

Early implementation of regulation XI-1/7
Because the regulation XI-1/7 requirements for portable testing instruments will enter into force much later than the regulation 19 rescue drill requirements, the IMO has drafted a circular to encourage their early implementation. The circular is expected to be issued in December 2014.

Related IMO resolutions and circulars
The changes to SOLAS Chapter III, regulation 19 are detailed in IMO Resolution MSC.350(92)
Recommendations for entering enclosed spaces are contained in IMO Resolution A.1050(27)

High speed craft, mobile offshore drilling units and dynamically supported craft
The enclosed space entry and rescue drill requirements also apply to high speed craft, mobile offshore drilling units and dynamically supported craft from 1 January, 2015. Amendments have been made to the following Codes accordingly:

the 1979 Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Code (Resolution MSC.357(92))
the 1989 Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Code (Resolution MSC.358(92)
the 2000 Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Code (Resolution MSC.359(92))
the Dynamically Supported Craft Code (Resolution MSC.360(92))
the High Speed Craft Code 1994 (Resolution MSC.351(92)), and
the High Speed Craft Code 2000 (Resolution MSC.352(92)).

Source: Lloyd’s Register Maritime

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  1. About time this was implemented there have been to many deaths from people entering enclosed spaces. One aspect that does not seem to be common knowledge is the dangers of low oxygen. The effects of low O2 are quick and very often deadly. I was involved in an incident on a tanker some years ago when a superintendent went down a forward cofferdam. He had being warned not to enter the tank it had not been ventilated or the atmosphere tested and no rescue equipment was in place.

    He descended to the first level and was about to go through the man hole to the second when he collapsed. Fortunately the Chief Engineer had not entered the tank and raised the alarm. To cut a long story short the Chief Officer arrived on the scene donned a BA set and went into the tank. He was not wearing a life line. When the reached the Superintendent, who was gasping dramatically, he decide to give him some air. He began to remove his mask but only loosened the straps and he passed out. I arrived at the scene and using BA and two life lines, one for me the other for the rescue, both men were brought out and recovered.

    How many lessons were there to learn from that one incident, yet people still die from not following basic rules. Entering an enclosed space is dangerous and there should be no short cuts. Test the atmosphere, have rescue equipment ready. If BA is being used wear a lifeline and the BA is for the wearer's use only. If it is for a rescue take an escape set. Have clearly established lines of communication time between contacts should not exceed five (5) minutes.

    If BA is not being used a personal detector should be warn clipped high on the body. When passing from one area to another e.g. through a lightening hole, the detector should put through the hole at arms length before entering, incase the O2 in the next compartment is low or there is any gas present.

  2. One of my biggest concerns with the new regulation is that you cannot ship calibration gas to the vessels and you cannot purchase it locally in most areas. Our vessels can be in foreign waters for years before returning to the US. Does anyone know a good resource for getting good quality 4 gas calibration gasses in South Africa, South America or Indonesia?

    • Shannon, Ribble Marine has established hubs with stocks of calibration gas on key shipping routes. We can now supply cylinders at Panama, Rotterdam, Algeciras, Durban, Suez, UAE and Singapore. Supply to Argentina and Brazil is port dependent but please reply if you want further information.