Three weeks ago, one of our ocreans went to the Middle East as QHSE advisor. It was not his first time in the Middle East. Before he has been in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman as QHSE expert; auditing vessels & projects and supporting projects on QHSE matters.
Last year, the machine room of a ship caught fire. The fire took hold of the ship, resulting in explosions. One of our clients stood by to extinguish the fires. Luckily, a natural disaster was prevented. They decided to move the ship to the Middle East to demobilize, empty the contents and clean the cargo tanks. This ship had a dimension of being 60 meters wide and 350 meters long.
Cleaning the tanks includes health hazards due to the oil, explosion danger and the possibility that dangerous gasses are released. Wim, our QHSE professional explains; “That’s why the employees wear breathing apparatus in the tanks and why there is a chemist specialist on board who can measure the emission of gasses/ vapours; to make sure it’s a safe work environment.” Entering the “wreck”, lying next to the work boat, was possible by using the fixed gangway aside the wreck, which was approximately 25 meters in height.
We asked Wim if he could tell us more about his activities. “For me a workday lasted around 12 hours. On the workboat, that was attached next to the “wreck”, we had our office on the bridge. A tiny office layout but comfortable enough to do the work. Here a variety of professionals (from a QHSE professional to a salvage master to superintendents) met-up to discuss, among others, the operations & safety measures on a daily base and whether there were any particularities”, said Wim.
Then he elaborates “What I liked mostly was the team spirit of our resilient team and the organization. Everyone was very multifunctional, hardworking, and really buckled down. I enjoyed working in such a dynamic and positive team. Especially during such a high-risk project and, of course, bearing COVID-19 in mind.”
We were also curious regarding the COVID situation. Especially as Wim was on a project in Brazil when COVID -19 started in 2020. Were there any big differences? Wim answers; “Most of the people stayed in a bubble on the ship. They were working and sleeping there. On the other hand, people who came to visit the ship (or rotation), were checked on symptoms and temperature before entering. Of course, even before entering the country you needed a negative PCR test and naturally you needed to keep your distance.” Then he continues, “During the outbreak of the pandemic it was way different as everything was unsure, everyone stayed on the ship, and there was no protocol. Now we know what to do and what is being expected.”
Hopefully soon we will all be able to move more freely!