Technical Circular No: 012/2022

Subject: AMSA Marine Notice No. 04/2022 Reg. Safe Handling of Hatch Covers.

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1. Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has informed that they continue to identify deficiencies in hatch covers, mostly as a result of lack of maintenance or improper operation. Some of these include unsafe securing – or no securing at all – of hatch covers, whilst the hatch covers are either partly or fully opened.

2. The common finding in these situations is not following manufacturer’s instructions during operations. Additionally, defects pertaining to poor maintenance of hydraulic systems that are critical to hatch cover operation have also been identified.

3. In view of above, AMSA has issued Marine Notice No. 04/2022 to raise awareness of the importance of the safe operation and maintenance of hatch covers and related equipment on board vessels and has provided following recommendations;

a. On vessels fitted with hatch covers, the SMS should include:

i. A Risk Assessment for opening / closing of hatch covers & working in cargo hold;

ii. Instructions & procedures to ensure the safe operation of hatch covers and associated equipment; and

iii. Defined levels of authority and lines of communication between shipboard personnel when such operations are being undertaken.

b. Training and Instructions to Seafarers:

i. Seafarers must be trained & provided with instructions for safe operations and maintenance of hatch covers.

ii. Training should include instruction in the correct operation of the specific type of hatch covers on the vessel;

iii. The risks posed by incorrect operation of the hatch covers; and

iv. Maintenance of the hatch covers in accordance with manufacturers’ guidelines.

c. Safe working practices should always be emphasized including:

i. Ensuring hatch covers are secured at all times, whether in an open or closed position, unless they are being operated;

ii. Keeping personnel clear of moving or pressurized machinery; and

iii.Safe working at height practices when working near an open hatch cover.

d. Communication:

Communication among seafarers is important for safe hatch cover operation. Coordination between vessels’ crew and ensuring there is a culture onboard for crew to speak up when they see something unsafe, can help prevent these types of serious incidents.

4. Owners/operators and masters are advised to be guided by above.



This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority. 

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