Safety Alert: Accidental release of CO2 system

NOVEMBER 12, 2014 — After an incident during a recent Uninspected Towing Vessel (UTV) exam in which a crew member accidentally pulled the CO2 release cables instead of the fuel oil shut-off cables, the U.S. Coast Guard Inspections and Compliance Directorate has issued a safety alert to remind shoreside and vessel personnel of the importance of 1) designing and maintaining emergency systems to be logical and easily operated in high stress situations, 2) maintaining a high level of crew familiarity with emergency systems, and 3) exercising safeguards during testing to mitigate the risk of human error or system malfunction.

Although regulations prescribe standards for safety systems aboard vessels, installations particularly those onboard uninspected vessels, can vary dramatically. In the case of the UTV exam incident, the emergency control panel involved contained pull cables for both the CO2 system and fuel oil shut-offs.In a separate recent UTV examination, an inspector found two sets of remote emergency shutdowns with only one set operational. The original station appeared to be fully operational, but was not connected. The operational shutdowns were at a separate location.

Crew interactions with emergency systems often occur during periods of increased stress (e.g., a compliance exam, drill, or an actual emergency). System design, proper human engineering, labeling, and detailed training will substantially reduce the risk of human error.

The Coast Guard recommends conducting a comprehensive pre-test meeting and simulated step-by-step "walk-through" between involved parties prior to actual testing of complex or potentially confusing systems. Operational controls should be implemented to maximize safety and reduce risk.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard strongly reminds all maritime operators of the importance in performing regular vessel specific emergency drills and to ensure that all crew members have the proper knowledge, skills, and abilities to respond to any potential emergency.

Read the Marine Safety Alert HERE

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