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Measures to ensure safe watchkeeping in the engine room on board ship (17/04/2016)

The engine room is an important part of a ship. Ensuring safety for the officer and engine rating on watch in the engine room and the equipment installed in the engine room is of great importance for the common safety of the ship. Therefore, taking measures to ensure safe watch-keeping in the engine room is a problem of people’s interest.

The engine room is a place where the engines, machinery and equipment are fitted to maintain the operation of a vessel. There are a lot of risks leading to insecurity in the engine room:

Such machinery and equipment as main engines, auxiliary machinery and boilers operate continually, which causes heat radiation and makes the temperature inside engine room higher than the temperature outside it. In the engine room, On the other hand, the accumulation of fluids such as water, fuel and lubricating oil occurs due to the leakage from the pumps, valves, piping systems. At high temperatures, the liquid evaporates faster, which increases the amount of moisture and humidity in the engine room space. The ventilating system of the engine room helps to make the air fresh and maintain the pressure necessary for the operation of machinery and improve the working conditions for the personnel in the engine room.

Temperature, humidity and pressure inside the engine room are quite different from the conditions outside i, therefore, it is detrimental to the people working in the engine room.

In addition, the engine and machinery working at high temperature and pressure such as boilers, compressed-air reservoirs and oxygen, acetylene reservoirs have high risks of insecurity for people working in the engine room. On the other hand, the leaked fuel and lubricants onto the heated surface can easily cause fires and explosions in the engine room. The machinery and equipment working at high speed, slippery surfaces, objects hanging above the operator etc. are also very easy to cause accidents if he is not aware of the situations.

Furthermore, when working in the enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation, it is also easy to have accidents.

Common accidents in the engine room:

- Accidents caused by electric shock;

- Accidents caused by using improper tools and failures of technical requirements;

- Accidents when working in enclosed spaces;

- Accidents when operating the engine or machinery;

- Accidents caused by damaged machinery and equipment;

- Accidents due to slippery surfaces or heated surfaces;

- Accidents caused by misunderstanding each other during group work.

To ensure the safety of the watches in the engine room, safety measures need to be strictly applied.

Measures - group one: The person in charge of the watch in the engine room must be qualified for his work.

The person in charge of keeping watch in the engine room must have full knowledge and be trained to meet the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers - STCW1978, amended in 2010):

- Thoroughly understand the operating principles and characteristics of the machinery in the engine room;

- Operate the machinery properly according to the procedures;

- Carry out regular and periodic inspection to maintain proper operation of the machinery;

- Be able to communicate in English in his work;

- Have knowledge of English adequate to understand the documents, engineering publications and manuals on board;

- Be qualified and familiar with assembly, test and be able to detect failures of machinery and equipment;

- Be able to use the machines, portable machine tools skillfully;

- Have adequate knowledge of the electrical and electronic equipment;

- Be fully aware of safety and the characteristics of the fuel, oil, chemicals;

- Continue learning to improve professional knowledge;

- Be able to skillfully use specialized tools, other tools for repair;

- Have adequate knowledge and be able to use the fire-fighting equipment etc.

Measures – group two: The person in charge of the watch in the engine room must be fully aware of safety.

The person in charge of the watch in the engine room must be fully aware of safety:

- Be fully aware of safety when working in the engine room;

- Be fully aware of safety, the warnings and safety signs in engine room;

- Understand and be able to prevent the potential risks become unsafe while working in the engine room.

Measures - Group Three: Disciplines in the engine room

The person in charge of the watch in the engine room must follow the disciplines strictly:

- Absolutely obey the orders of his officer in charge;

- Comply with regulations during working time;

- Be equipped with a full range of equipment, labor protection tools and fittings;

- Be able to cooperate and work well in teamwork.

With working environments with specific characteristics, potential risks of insecurity, taking measures to ensure safety is a matter of great concerns. Hopefully, this article will help to raise awareness of seafarers working on board ships, especially those who often have to work in the engine room, and will help to reduce the accident while working in the engine room.