A seafarer who was sent forward to fetch tools died due to entering into an enclosed space on board of a general cargo ship with 1800 GT.

Narrative
During the passage of a 90 m long laden with steel turnings vessel to Spain, two seafarers were instructed to repair a dented rail section on the starboard weather deck. After a while one of the seamen was sent to fetch a strop from the forward bosun store.
The seafarer on the weather deck proceeded with his work for almost one hour when he realized that his colleague had not yet returned. He went forward to search for his colleague and found the lid of an entry hatch to the forward void space, connected air wise to the cargo hold, opened. The entrance to the forecastle was still closed. Assuming that his crewmate was searching for the strop in the void space between forecastle deck and cargo hold, where some equipment was kept, proceeded to the open hatch and discovered his colleague lying at the bottom of the hatch, about two decks down.
The seafarer after first attempting to reach his colleague in distress aborted entering the hatch and informed the bridge.
Subsequently two of the vessels crew, under breathing apparatus, entered the void space and retrieved the lifeless body of their colleague, immediately giving CPR, sadly without success. Although a rescue helicopter was immediately requested and sent, the medical team could only officially state the seafarer’s death.

Findings
Sufficient information has been provided by the company to demonstrate that clear procedures, standards and instructions for safety management have been implemented.

Recommendation
Access points into enclosed spaces should be locked instead of closed and fitted with signage.
No equipment or similar should be kept in void spaces, especially in this case where the space was part of the cargo hold filled with steel turnings.