Enclosed space deaths severely underreported

As two more workers die in an enclosed space onboard a ship, InterManager has hit out at the shipping industry’s inadequate reporting of serious and fatal accidents.

Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of InterManager, the international trade association for ship and crew managers, said: “Another two workers have died this month. They were two shore workers who apparently entered the wrong space on a cargo ship and paid the ultimate price for their mistake.”

InterManager has been keeping statistics on incidents involving enclosed spaces since 1999, and during this period enclosed spaces have claimed the lives of 104 seafarers and 51 shore workers. However, Szymanski fears these figures could be higher still and said yesterday he believes there is under-reporting by shipping authorities.

“The shipping industry is very slow in reporting accidents in enclosed spaces, as it also is with lifeboat incidents. 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,” Szymanski said, adding: “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.”

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 workers, and contradicting, confusing regulations.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I think this is certainly right. I suspect that the numbers may be even worse.

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