Why Worry about Static Electricity?

Why Do We Need to Worry about Static Electricity?

In this lesson, you will learn more about how static electricity is formed and why you must be aware of static electricity risks when handling flammable fluids.


How Does Different Material Behave in Terms of Static Electricity?

Conductivity differs between different materials. To know how to handle your equipment onboard, you will learn more about the classification of materials in this lesson.


What Are the Sources of Static Electricity Onboard?

In this lesson, you will learn more about static accumulators and the importance of interting when handling flammable fluids.


What Precautions Can Be Implemented to Mitigate the Risks Posed By Static Electricity?

What can you do to minimize the risks of static electricity? In this lesson, you will learn more about precautions to prevent incidents that electrostatic discharges may cause.

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Step 1 of 42 minutes read

Why Worry about Static Electricity?

Welcome to this course Static Electricity Onboard! This course consists of text and images in combination with short video clips, produced by KARCO. KARCO is a pioneer in 3D Animated Marine Safety Videos since 2007 and all video content originates from our clients that are operating hundreds of vessels, with decades of experience behind them. This ensures that the content reflects actual operational & shipboard requirements. Our marine safety videos offer a unique and effective learning system to over 250 companies worldwide. KARCO is a content provider creating complete e-learning courses based on their videos and using the Seably platform.

This course follows the guidance of Chapter three from ISGOTT 6th Edition. In this course, we will go through the basics when dealing with static electricity onboard, the most critical procedures regarding static electricity, and also how to avoid it. More information about this topic can be found in your company's Tanker Manual/Operation manual or in Chapter 3, Static Electricity, in ISGOTT.

But, Why Do We Even Have to Worry about Static Electricity Onboard?

Static electricity presents fire and explosion hazards during the handling of petroleum and other tanker operations such as tank cleaning, dipping, ullaging, and sampling. Even on the non-tanker fleet, certain operations may give rise to accumulations of electric charge that may be released suddenly in electrostatic discharges with sufficient energy to ignite flammable hydrocarbon gas/air mixtures. There is, of course, no risk of ignition unless a flammable mixture is present.

When carrying flammable cargoes, a non-flammable atmosphere is normally achieved using an inert gas system. However, one must remember that not all ships are equipped with such a system. In accordance with 2016 amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/4.5.5 and II 2/16.3.3 only now all new (2016 onwards) oil and chemical tankers of 8.000 dwt and above are required to be fitted with inert gas system when transporting low-flash point cargoes of <60°C, while Oil Tankers above 20,000 dwt were already required to install such systems. 

For tankers fitted with exhaust gas inerting systems, the application of inert gas must be carried out during loading, on passage, unloading, tank cleaning and purging prior to gas freeing. However, for chemical tankers, the application of inert gas may take place after the cargo tank has been loaded, but before the commencement of unloading (only if nitrogen is used as the inerting medium) and shall continue to be applied until that cargo tank has been purged of all flammable vapours before gas freeing.

In the 2016 amendments, the oxygen limit (all tankers) for inert gas supplied to cargo tanks has also been lowered from 8% to 5% for new systems.

This still leaves us with a significant part of the global tanker fleet which does not need to be equipped with an inert gas system and therefore stressing the importance of awareness about the dangers of static electricity onboard.

Explosion on a chemical tanker during a tank cleaning operation.