‘Use of asbestos should be banned in ships’

 MG 9642 John ChillingworthJohn Chillingworth is the senior marine principal at Lucion Marine. (Image source: Lucion Marine)The IMO needs to amend the SOLAS regulation banning the use of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACM) in ships, according to John Chillingworth, senior marine principal at Lucion Marine

Regulations under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) has stated that if asbestos is found onboard a ship built after July 2002, then the vessel’s flag registry, along with its classification society, issues a non-extendable exemption certificate, providing the owner with a three-year window to remove the asbestos.

“Any ship built before 2002, may contain asbestos but must have a hazardous materials’ register and management plan in place to cover any maintenance or repair work involving asbestos,” Chillingworth said.

“It’s possible to correct this by ensuring that all new vessels have an approved asbestos survey before they are delivered to operators, with significant logistical challenges ahead,” he added.

The amount of asbestos found onboard depends on several factors including where the ship was built. “In our experience, ships built in the Far East and Turkey, have a high percentage of items containing asbestos. Ships can also be contaminated through items brought onboard by the owners, despite assurances that they are asbestos free,” he explained.

“A proactive prudent approach can prevent potential litigation for claimed exposure to asbestos from the ship’s crew, protecting ship owners. It can also enhance the true value of the ship and eliminates any potential issues if asbestos was found during a pre-purchase survey and, ultimately, protects the crew and anyone else working on the ship,” Chillingworth concluded.

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