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Hot work conducted within the 500 metres safety zone

A member has reported an incident in which someone was found conducting hot work on a vessel within the 500m safety zone of a platform. Whilst the platform personnel were preparing for the lifting operation, the deck foreman noticed that someone was grinding on the deck of the vessel. The distance from the platform to the vessel at this time was 20m. The deck foreman immediately contacted the master of the vessel via the radio and asked him to have the grinding operation stopped, as this activity was not permitted within the 500m zone.

Investigation revealed the following immediate and root causes:

  • Immediate Cause . violation of procedures (by individual): an experienced member of the crew had decided to restart the hot work task (grinding) from the previous day without going through the formalities of the control of work (COW) process. All crew had been advised by the chief mate that the vessel was entering the 500m zone;
  • Root Cause . incorrect judgment: the person conducting the hot work was a longstanding employee with over seven years experience in the job. He knew all the requirements but nonetheless decided to violate the procedures as the job would only take a couple of minutes to complete.

The incident serves as a reminder that procedures are written in order to protect personnel from injury and illness, prevent damage to property and to protect the environment, and should not be ignored. The consequences of this violation -the possible ignition of a pocket of flammable gas or vapour . could have been catastrophic to the individual, the vessels and platform crew. All hot work should be controlled using the permit to work (PTW) system.

Prior to entering a 500m zone all crew on duty should be advised that:

  • Smoking on deck is prohibited;
  • Hot work on deck is prohibited;
  • The use of a mobile phone on deck is prohibited.

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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.