Powered Watertight Doors

September 3, 2010 12:00 am

3 September 2010

Videotel launches training video aimed at preventing accidents in powered watertight doors

Videotel Marine International, the world’s leading producer of maritime training videos, DVDs and computer based training programmes, has responded to industry requests to produce a training video on the safe use of powered watertight doors to prevent deaths and maimings.

Each year seafarers die or are seriously injured by being crushed within powered watertight doors, often because they have not followed safe working practices. Powered watertight doors are an important design feature fitted to many types of vessels to prevent progressive flooding. Usually made of steel and designed to withstand extreme pressures from flooding water, powered watertight doors close with a maximum force of up to two tons which is easily enough to crush a person to death if they became trapped between the door and the bulkhead.

Loulla Mouzouris, Videotel’s Head of Rentals and Sales, says: “Our customers told us of some horrific cases involving powered watertight doors and also of instances where power cables or waterpipes for firefighting had become trapped in the doorways. We responded to their concerns by producing this two-part video training package with a training workbook which is aimed at raising awareness of safe and correct operating practices and will benefit everyone onboard as well as visitors and contractors working on ships.”

Powered Watertight Doors is particularly designed for group training sessions with a trainer though it can also be used for individual study. The package covers correct operating procedures, safety measures and SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) regulations.

Powered Watertight Doors is aimed at crew onboard vessels fitted with powered watertight doors such as ferries, cruise ships, RO-ROs, cargo ships and special purpose vessels such as cable vessels and seismic vessels. There could be up to 40 powered watertight doors on a ship. On cruise ships they may be located throughout all areas on the lower decks whereas in other vessels they may only be found in machinery spaces. Door systems vary and therefore the training on how to operate them is ship and company specific. However, the overall design and safety features are common to all systems. Made of heavy gauge steel, powered watertight doors are moved by hydraulic rams or powered by electric motors. They are regulated to take a minimum of 20 seconds and a maximum of 40 seconds to close but, if the door has not been opened fully, it could take as little as five to six seconds to close.

Serious accidents can happen when a person:
• attempts to get through the door while it is moving
• doesn’t wait until the door is fully opened
• carries a load in both hands and doesn’t keep one hand on the controls
• trips and falls over so they can’t get out of the door area before it closes
• goes through the door while it is being opened remotely from the bridge
• snags clothing or a large tool they are carrying, thereby becoming trapped in the doorway

Loulla Mouzouris explains: “Almost all accidents are avoidable. They are frequently the result of personnel not following correct procedures. Accidents can happen when a crew member uses the doors frequently and starts to take risks, or they can occur because of poor supervision. Crew can sometimes consider the procedures for passing through powered watertight doors safely to be excessive and time-consuming, particularly when the doors are in frequent use.

“Because they are made of steel and designed to withstand extreme pressures from flooding water, powered watertight doors close with a maximum force of up to two tons which is easily enough to crush a person to death if they became trapped between the door and the bulkhead.”

As well as keeping ships watertight, some powered watertight doors are also designated as fire doors and will close in the event of a fire. Everyone onboard, whether they are authorised powered watertight door operators or whether they may only need to use one in an emergency, must clearly understand the risks associated with powered watertight doors and how to operate them safely.

Videotel’s Powered Watertight Doors training video package is being introduced to help minimise the number of accidents that result from not following the correct procedures when using powered watertight doors. A computer-based training package will be available in the Autumn.