Introduction to Cargo Hold Cleaning Dangers

Dry Bulk Carriers are developed to be as efficient as possible and to have the biggest capacity possible to carry coal, grain, iron, or other bulks. There is a need for fast and efficient loading and unloading. This capacity focuses on full holds but it is just as important to be efficient as soon as the holds are empty. When the holds have been emptied, the process of cleaning and preparing the hold for a new bulk load starts. To reduce lead times and standing idle, quick un-loading is important. Because most companies have focused on making sure the holds are emptied and filled again at a fast pace, safety is often overlooked as traditional (dangerous) methods are used.

Within this article, we highlight concerning statistics found and reported by the European Maritime Safety Agency in their report ”Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2019

Main Causes of Accidents on Ships

Currently, cargo hold cleaning is mainly done by manual labor. This makes that the current operation is not only inefficient, ineffective, and slow but also potentially dangerous and risky. Unfortunately, human errors are still the main reason why accidents happen.

Figure 2.21: Distribution of accident events for 2011 – 2018

Source: Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2019

Human Errors During Cargo Hold Cleaning

This is due to the lack of awareness of the risks involved in the work that is done and the lack of skills and training. Read more about skilled workers and automation here From a total of 4104 events analyzed, 65.8% were due to human actions. The biggest risk involved in the use of manual cleaning methods to clean the holds for staff is slipping, stumbling, and falling resulting in potentially fatal consequences. Another reason for accidents is the handling of equipment such as high-pressure lances, which can cause instability, especially when working on heights.

Figure 2.13: Distribution of deviations

Source: Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2019

Cargo hold cleaning is a dangerous operation. Of all the marine casualties or incidents in 2018, 15,5% have occurred in or on Bulk Carriers. From these incidents, 50% are happening in or around the cargo hold area. Next to the risks regarding potential accidents happening during the cargo hold cleaning operation, the health risks for the staff are an important factor as well. The different bulk cargo which is transported can be toxic or harmful which is resulting in short-term and long-term health issues. This can be minimized with the use of the right personal protection equipment but can never be totally eliminated.

Figure 3.1: Distribution of cargo ship types involved

Source: Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents 2019

The Solution: A Semi-Automatic Cargo Hold Cleaning Robot

To eliminate working on heights and minimize the number of people being involved during the hold cleaning operation, VertiDrive developed our revolutionary M8 Cargo Hold Cleaner, the semi-automatic robotic crawler that can be effectively controlled by one operator and can be operated remotely which results in a much larger distance from the area of potential danger. This takes away the risks involved in physical contact with (U)HP hoses and minimizes the impact on health. An important reason for the use of the M8 Cargo Hold Cleaner is that it increases the accessibility of high areas without the use of staging and/or cherry pickers. This means an operator can navigate the robot all over the hold when being safely on the ground without any risk to fall. these health and safety benefits can eventually result in a financial benefit as well. An accident can have a huge financial impact on an operation if you take factors as downtime and damage to reputation etc. into consideration.

The conclusion is that investing in the VertiDrive M8 robotic hold cleaning solution is an essential next step to be able to turn the current dangerous and risky operation into a much more cost and time-efficient but above all, a safer and less harmful job.


Source: EMSA


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