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Machinery Maintenance - Safety Precautions & Housekeeping

Safety guideline
The responsibilities of the marine engineer are rarely confined to the machinery space. Different companies have different practices, but usually all shipboard machinery, with the exception of radio equipment, is maintained by the marine engineer. Electrical engineers may be carried on very large ships, but if not, the electrical equipment is also maintained by the engineer.

A broad-based theoretical and practical training is therefore necessary for a marine engineer. He must be a mechanical, electrical, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration engineer, as the need arises. Unlike his shore-based opposite number in these occupations, he must also deal with the specialised requirements of a floating platform in a most corrosive environment.

Furthermore he must be self sufficient and capable of getting the job done with the facilities at his disposal. The modern ship is a complex collection of self-sustaining machinery providing the facilities to support a small community for a considerable period of time.

This equipment is dealt with either as a complete system comprising small items or individual larger items. In the latter case, especially, the choices are often considerable. A knowledge of machinery and equipment operation provides the basis for effective maintenance.

Machinery Maintenance

Prior to commencing a maintenance task on any piece of plant or machinery, other than routine tasks normally undertaken while the machinery is in motion, the responsible Engineer is to ensure that the machine has been isolated from its power supply and cannot be inadvertently restarted. Appropriate cautionary notices are to be attached to the isolating device. The responsible Engineer must also ensure that temperatures and pressures in the machine and associated pipework have been reduced to safe levels prior to commencement of work.

It is particularly important to ensure that machinery capable of being remotely or automatically started has been positively isolated prior to commencement of maintenance.

This is of particular importance with regard to main and auxiliary engines starting, turning gear arrangements, radar, hatch cover and machinery maintenance etc where inadvertent operation of controls whilst under maintenance may cause an accident.

Notices are to be placed at the appropriate stop valves, local actuators and circuit breakers. A senior officer must ensure that other ship’s staff and/or shore staff onboard are appropriately and adequately fore-warned about the works. Adequate supervision must be arranged according to the criticality. No maintenance or repair work which may effect the supply of water to the fire main or sprinkler systems is to be commenced without the prior permission of the Master.

No alarm system is to be isolated without the permission of the Chief Engineer. When machinery guards or other safety devices are removed during overhaul, they are to be refitted immediately on completion of the work and before the machinery or equipment is tested. Before any machinery or equipment is opened for maintenance it is to be immobilised (locked out / tagged out) to prevent inadvertent starting, particularly when working with automatic or remote control equipment.

The Officer in charge must give careful consideration to any hazards involved before allowing maintenance or repairs to, or immediately adjacent to, moving machinery.

Fuel Leaks:

Fuel oil leaks from bunker tanks, burners and pipelines or other parts of the fuel oil system present a serious fire hazard and as such these leaks must be rectified immediately. Frequent inspections of fuel oil systems are essential to ensure that any leaks, which do occur, are quickly traced and rectified. If lagging on pipelines, heaters etc, becomes saturated with fuel oil, the affected material is to be removed immediately. It should be replaced with new material after repairing the leak.

Cleanliness and Housekeeping

The machinery spaces are to be maintained in as clean a condition as possible. In achieving a high standard of cleanliness and housekeeping the following will be essential: -
  1. Keep engine room bilges clean and free from oil, whenever practicable, whilst observing MARPOL regulations.
  2. Trace and stop any leakage of oil or water.
  3. Empty save-alls regularly to prevent overflows.
  4. Keep tank tops, floor plates, gratings, ladders, handrails etc, clean and free from oil.
  5. Tools and movable equipment must be stowed away properly when not in use.
  6. Removal of Floor Plates, Manholes and Ladders
All floor plates, gratings, ladders, handrails etc, must be kept properly secured. Whenever it is necessary to remove these items the following precautions must be observed: The area affected must be roped off. Warning signs must be displayed to warn personnel of the danger. The area must be well illuminated.

Sounding Pipes

Sounding pipes are required to be fitted with a cap attached by a chain and an operational deadweight closure device. Regular checks must be made to ensure that these fittings are in place and operating correctly. Deadweight closure devices must not under any circumstances be artificially held open after use.

Fluorescent Lighting In areas with exposed and or moving machinery fluorescent tubes must be fitted with diffuser covers. This is to ensure that the frequency of the lighting does not coincide with that of the rotating and or moving machinery to create the illusion that it is stationery.

Related Information:

Safety precautions for Unmanned machinery spaces

MAN B&W diesel engine - Basic principles and operational guideline

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Machinery is about working principles, construction and operation of all the machinery items in a ship intended primarily for engineers working on board and those who working ashore . For any remarks please Contact us

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