Toxic gases in bulk carriers


Bulk carriers transport cargo in large spaces of 3.000 m³ to 12.000 m³, which remain closed during the entire journey. Needless to say, toxic gases can be present in these spaces. If the labourers have to descend into the spaces because the cranes can no longer reach the cargo, then you can call on Atmosafe to make an inventory of the risks and to control them. By doing this, you can ensure a safe working environment!

New attention


These days there is a lot of attention on the problem of toxic gases in bulk vessels. As a result of an accident at a bulk terminal in the Port of Antwerp, CEPA (Central of Employees at the Port of Antwerp) published a safety instruction card. CEPA explicitly recommends checking the atmosphere in staircases and cargoholds before entering them. As stated in the Codex book VI title 1 chemical agents, employers are legally obliged to protect their employees against exposure to chemical agents.

Causes of gas formation


There can be different reasons why toxic gases occur in bulk cargo:
  • Production and/or treatment process of the product.
  • Chemical reaction of the product with moisture and/or ambient air.
When they are highly concentrated, these toxic gases can form explosive mixtures, thus carrying additional risk.

Dynamic risk control


Atmosafe uses a unique method to draw up all risks after performing a thorough analysis. By doing this they help combat this problem. The European Directives (98/24/EC) also indicate that a thorough risk analysis is required first.

In essence, this means:
  • Twice a year: an analysis of the atmosphere in the spaces and staircases, upon arrival of the vessel (for each shipment of bulk cargo).
  • Shutters remain closed (worst case scenario).
  • A correct inventory of toxic substances per cargo.
  • Prior to entering the hold, a measuring program will be performed.
  • A Last Minute Risk Analysis is performed to ensure 100% safety.
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Did you know…


  • Metal scrap containers can contain explosive gases because of chemical reactions?
  • Closing a cargo hold after ventilation can increase the build-up of gases?

Any questions? Do not hesitate to ask!

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