Two workers onboard ship have died in the past month - but historically there are likely to be more than figures show.

The deaths of two workers in an enclosed space onboard a ship has prompted the international trade association for ship and crew managers InterManager to urge the shipping industry to improve its reporting of fatal and serious accidents. 

Secretary General Captain Kuba Szymanski said two more workers had died in May, having apparently ‘entered the wrong space’ on a cargo ship and paying the ultimate price.

Although InterManager has been keeping statistics on incidents involving enclosed spaces since 1999, it does not believe the true figure has come to light because of the inadequate reporting of the numbers, It says that since then, enclosed spaces have claimed the lives of 104 seafarers and 51 shore workers, but this was unlikely to be the true number.


Captain Kuba Szymanski

“The shipping industry is very slow in reporting accidents in enclosed spaces, as it also is with lifeboat incidents,” said Captain Szymanski. ”Accident reports take ages even for Flag States rated as ‘excellent’. The IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS)  database is largely being ignored by Flag States. We have discovered that only 26% of enclosed space accidents were reported through GISIS – which means 74% were not reported at all.

“By not reporting accidents the shipping industry is not giving people the chance to properly investigate, understand and learn from them. This is potentially putting the lives of more seafarers and port workers in danger.”

Capt Szymanski urged the shipping industry to work harder to address the root causes of enclosed space accidents which InterManager has identified are particularly due to ship design, time pressure on staff and contradictory, confusing regulations. 

InterManager is currently working with the members of the Human Element Industry Group (HEIG) to identify the biggest risk factors and potential solutions to minimise deaths and injuries in enclosed spaces.


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