Fresh Air in Dark Places

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Published Date

March 2010

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Fresh Air in Dark Places

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This book is an informative guide to the hazards associated with entering enclosed or confined spaces on board and is an essential resource for anyone involved in this activity.

The authors, Olaf and Erik Olsen, first considered this book after reading yet another account of an enclosed space tragedy resulting in the death of merchant seafarers. Despite the fact that the merchant marine world has been provided with guidance, regulation and codes to prevent such accidents, they continue to happen.


The informative style of this book explains the hazards associated with the activity of entering confined spaces and should provide an excellent basis for decision taking when faced with the potential hazard of an enclosed space.

Authors’ Introduction



The Death Toll must be Cut

1 A Straightforward Approach

1.1 Systematic Approach to Safety

1.2 What is ‘Fresh Air’?

1.3 Weight of Air and Different Gases – an Introduction to Molecular Mass

1.3.1 Methane

1.3.2 Vapours Lighter than Methane

1.4 The Hazard of Invisible Gases

1.5 Temperature and Pressure Variation

2 What is so Special about Fresh Air?

2.1 Oxygen

2.2 Spaces with less than 20.9% Oxygen

2.3 The Human Need for Oxygen

2.4 Nitrogen

2.5 Carbon Dioxide

3 The Adrenalin Rush and Feeling Superhuman

4 Carbon Monoxide – A Nasty and Sinister Gas

4.1 Threshold Limit Value (TLV)

5 A Most Unpleasant Smell

6 The Hydrocarbons

6.1 Flammability of Hydrocarbons

6.2 More Waxy and Viscous Fluids

6.3 Hydrocarbon Vapours and Flammable Limits

6.4 The Chemical Industry and Alkanes

6.5 Benzene

6.6 CFCs

6.7 Ammonia

6.8 Release of Gases from Residues on Chemical Tankers

7 So Far, So Good, So What?

8 The Real World

8.1 Hazard Identification

8.2 Risk Assessment

8.3 Checklists

8.4 Signed Entry Permit

8.5 Correctly Monitor and Record

9 Tables of Toxicity

9.1 Source of Data

9.2 TLV, TWA and STEL

9.3 OEL, MEL, WEL and DNEL

10 The Nose is not Enough

10.1 Introduction to Explosimeters

10.2 Introduction to the Oxygen Analyser

10.3 Introduction to the Tankscope

10.4 Tubes and Multi-Channel Gas Detectors

10.5 Testing and Calibration of Instruments

10.6 Summary of the Various Gas Measuring

10.7 Flammable Range Diagram

11 Closing Summary

11.1 Key Points when Preparing to Evaluate the
Atmosphere in a Compartment

11.2 Evaluating the Atmosphere of Secondary




Enclosed space entry is an extremely hazardous activity that results in fatal accidents each year,

It may also be known as:

  • Dangerous space entry

  • Tank entry

  • Confined space entry

Entry into an enclosed space should only be made when there is no alternative measures that could be taken, when all hazards have been assessed and dealt with and it has been verified that the space contains fresh air.

Olaf Olsen has a Master Mariners certificate and draws on his career experience on tankers and dry cargo ships, together with considerable time in commercial ship management, in maritime education and in his work as an advisory consultant to several international maritime bodies.

Title: Fresh Air in Dark Places
Number of Pages: 134
Product Code: 4351
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-905331-89-5 (9781905331895), ISBN 10: 1-905331-89-4 (1905331894)
Published Date: March 2010
Binding Format: Paperback
Book Height: 210 mm
Book Width: 150 mm
Book Spine: 90 mm
Weight: 0.30 kg
Author: Olaf Olsen

Customer Reviews

Fresh Air in Dark Places Review by Fairplay Review
Dangerous spaces
Fairplay Review
Routine activities on board a ship can cause the death of a seafarer in minutes. Olaf and Erik Olsen were driven to write a book after reading yet another account of an enclosed space tragedy. The result is Fresh Air in Dark Places, which was published in April. Despite the fact that the industry provides guidance, regulation and codes to prevent serious shipping accidents, fatalities still happen.
The premise is that a ship is a collection of spaces and most must be entered at some time for cleaning, inspection or maintenance. The authors themselves have combined experience of working on tankers and dry cargo ships, commercial ship management, health science, and maritime education. Rather than producing yet another set of best practices, the authors say they hope to inform on the hazards associated with the activity of entering confined spaces. These include smells, gases (as few have any colour), rust (that uses up oxygen) and hydrocarbons.
An intriguing and interesting chapter entitled ‘The Adrenaline Rush and Feeling Superhuman’ covers the sensations a human being feels during times of excitement or crisis. The authors point out that a sudden adrenaline rush has temporary results, including the inability to make cool and calm decisions. A team member in a confined space without sufficient access to fresh air may start to feel this way, and the general consensus with confined spaces is to stay out.
The final sections of the book discuss good practice in relation to confined space entry.
The ground rule is to keep out as much as possible, and the authors advise in some detail, giving examples. What follows are a number of samples of space entry permits, along with tables of toxicity, a closing summary and a bibliography. There is much ground covered in this informative, 107-page handbook.
Miriam Fahey

(Posted on 05/08/2010)

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