Skip to content

Confined space fatality

A member has reported an incident onboard a vessel in dry dock involving a number of fatalities caused by an explosion in a confined space. The explosion occurred in a machinery space and caused a serious fire. Though the incident is still under investigation, it is considered possible that a build-up of flammable gas had occurred, which was ignited by an as yet unknown source.

The company involved has recommended the following actions:

Ensure that confined or enclosed spaces are certified ‘gas free’ before work is commenced within them. It is also vital that to highlight the need to ensure that appropriate atmosphere monitoring within confined or enclosed spaces is undertaken throughout the period of work in a confined or enclosed space.

The following precautions should also be taken:

  1. All hoses carrying flammable gas should be isolated at the supply source shut-off valve and depressurised during short breaks in the work, especially during tea breaks, lunch breaks etc.
  2. All hoses carrying flammable gas should be removed from spaces during longer breaks in the work, i.e. any duration in excess of one hour.

These precautions should ensure that the potential for build-up of flammable gases is minimised or prevented from reaching hazardous levels.

Safety Event

Published: 31 October 2007
Download: IMCA SF 09/07

IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.