24. Specific vessel types
24.1 General provisions
24.1.1. Reference should be made to Chapters 1-23 where applicable.
24.1.2. The appropriate national and international requirements should be
24.1.3. In all operations maintaining a high level of safety should be the first
priority. The operations and the hazards should be thoroughly explained to seafarers
carrying out their respective tasks and the safety precautions for each task should be
fully understood. In particular:
(a) where there is a high risk from fire and explosion rules restricting smoking and the
carriage of matches and cigarette lighters must be observed. Smoking should not
be permitted on board except in places and at times permitted by the master;
(b) spillages and leaks of hazardous substances, such as petroleum and some mineral
oils, should be attended to immediately. The shipowner should provide seafarers
with information and personal protective equipment for the safe handling of such
(c) oil-soaked rags and other materials present a fire hazard and may spontaneously
ignite. They must be disposed of in compliance with MARPOL.1 Other
combustible rubbish should not be allowed to accumulate;
(d) cargo handling equipment, testing instruments, automatic and other alarm systems
should be well maintained;
(e) work which could cause sparking or which involves the use of heat should not be
undertaken unless authorized and after the work area has been tested and found
gas-free, or otherwise declared safe;
(f) where work in an enclosed space is necessary, the guidance in Chapter 10 should
be strictly followed;
(g) "permit to work" procedures should be adopted unless the work presents no undue
hazard (see Chapter 4);
(h) appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn.
24.1.4. Seafarers should be properly trained in accordance with applicable
national and international requirements.2 Training in emergency procedures and the use
of any special emergency equipment should be undertaken at regular intervals. This
should include medical first aid measures, in the event of accidental contact with
harmful substances and inhalation of dangerous gases or fumes.
24.1.5. Shipowners should provide the master and crew with adequate
instructions and information on all operations. Those on board responsible for the safe
1 MARPOL, Annexes I and V .
2 See the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for
Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended or revised, as well as associated resolutions.
Accident prevention on board ship
loading and carriage of the cargo should also be provided with all the relevant
information pertinent to the cargo before it is loaded and about the precautions to be
taken during the voyage. The remainder of the crew should also be advised of any
precautions they should take. At all loading and discharging ports a safety checklist
should be reviewed by the master and an official from the marine terminal.1 Before
starting cargo loading, the stowage and loading procedure should be discussed and
agreed between the master and the terminal operator.
24.1.6. Shipowners should ensure that all ships are equipped with the correct
operational and loading manuals.
24.1.7. To minimize the risk of exposure to cargo which could irritate the skin,
seafarers should wear appropriate protective clothing and use barrier creams. They
should wash themselves and their clothing to remove residual cargo dust so that it is not
carried into the living spaces and ingested accidentally while eating. This is particularly
relevant for those materials identified as toxic in the IMDG Code.
24.1.8. At sea, lashings on deck, in cargo holds, in engine rooms or in stores,
should be checked regularly and tightened if necessary. During heavy weather, where
appropriate, the heading of the ship should be changed in order to facilitate the
tightening of the lashings to reduce potential hazards.
24.2. Bulk carriers and carriage of bulk cargoes
24.2.1. The dust created by certain cargoes, particularly in loading, discharging
or hold cleaning operations, may pose an explosion hazard and should be limited, as far
as possible, to the minimum.
24.2.2. Many solid bulk cargoes,2 some seemingly innocuous, can cause health
problems for seafarers in various ways. For example:
(a) ammonium nitrate fertilizers produce toxic gases upon decomposition;
(b) antimony ore dust is toxic if inhaled;
(c) barium nitrate dust on food is toxic if swallowed;
(d) castor oil beans (Ricinus communis) when handled may cause severe irritation of
the skin and eyes.
24.2.3. Portholes, doors, etc., should be kept closed in port if they permit cargo
dust to enter the ship's accommodation area.
24.2.4. Spaces used for the carriage of bulk cargoes should be treated as confined
or dangerous spaces. The procedures for entering such spaces, set out in Chapter 10,
should be strictly followed.
1 An example is the Ship-Shore Checklist for Oil Tankers, contained in Appendix A of the Safety
Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT) published by the International Chamber of Shipping.
2 Appendix B of the IMO's Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes should be consulted.