The ‘hot phase’ of IHM (Inventory of Hazardous Materials) development seems to be over. The pressing issue nowadays is respective maintenance of the same. A topic very much underestimated and surely unwanted as it brings with it a lot of workload, responsibility and persuasion towards suppliers whose cooperation ship owners are depending on, notes Mrs. Jessica Röttmer, Ship Recycling Engineer, GSR Services.
eneral reluctance is widely spread as one question predominates: ‘what for??’. That actually is a good question which might be worth having a closer look at. Enhancing health and safety for crew on board or workers in a ship recycling yard by knowing what’s in the materials they’re working with, is a noble goal. But often not in the scope of suppliers and ship owners who focus more on building and operations.
Additionally it’s a too abstract task for companies not supplying only or directly into the maritime industry. Maybe a change of perspective helps easing the view on the workload trying to collect data from others or helps giving some motivation to fulfill the tasks involved.
Recently, I’ve read about a project on recycling of wind turbines and respective environmental product declaration (EPD). My thoughts instantly wandered to ‘wouldn’t that be great to know exactly what’s in there?’. I guess wind energy is more striking than shipping to land based people as it is very much visible and present everywhere for everyone. That’s what makes it easier to rise interest in and spin the head around the question of what comes next? So what happens with i.e. rotor blades when they are not being used anymore? Can they be re-used? How or what for? Does recycling help us saving precious raw materials? In order to answer those and other important questions, it is inevitable to know exactly what the systems and parts are made of and what kind of materials have been used and are contained.
These questions can only be answered by material suppliers of the manufacturers who then transfer such information to their customers– right down the whole supply chain for all materials used for construction. Another example for data collection and management pretty much known to everyone – and as such taken for granted – is the declaration of ingredients in food sold in supermarkets. I assume tracing down respective information from all involved has been quite a task and not been popular by the affected, so to say at least.
But aren’t most of us quite happy to be able to see what’s in the product we are purchasing for eating and drinking? Or at least curious at times? It goes without saying that collecting data like that from suppliers involved down the line didn’t happen without resistance, lack of understanding for the necessity of such actions and a lot of patience required on all sides. The results of such efforts though are much noted and appreciated by costumers.
And not to forget other – even when less obvious to everyone – industries like electronics, automotive, medical equipment and so on are practicing similar or even more complex documentation tasks since decades. Not to forget that such efforts have not always been triggered by legislation and enforcement, at least in the beginning.
Coming back to the maritime industry, to the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, its maintenance and respective documentation in terms of Material Declarations and Supplier’s Declarations of Conformity. We face the same problems: resistance and lack of understanding – especially increasing the further down the supply chain we go. That in itself is understandable because, as mentioned before, it gets kind of abstract to follow and it seems to be common to humans to not like changes so much.
In the end, the key task is change of perspective from ‘oh no, what for?’ to curiosity and how it can safeguard people and the environment. That doesn’t make the workload go away, but asking questions about own products like ‘what does it exactly consist of?’, ‘what can be done with it once its lifetime is over?’, ‘is there a chance of saving raw materials in case it can be re-used?’, ‘does it cause harm to me when working on it?’, might bring some motivation for tackling this task on information gathering even down the line. Motivation and understanding always eases the work.
That’s what the change of perspective can achieve – give it a go! And still – convincing and guiding others down the line, looking below the surface, asking critical questions, avoiding confusion and detecting the most efficient method maybe by choosing a helpful tool to go about it is quite a demanding task of course. Failing is not an option and seeking advice from respective experts to tackle those tasks might be a good solution.
Defiance is to find a suitable partner with deep insight, experience and clarity – ensuring the desired outcome. Not only in the sense of questions possibly raised as above but also of course in terms of compliance and also efficiency aspects. As such we’re always happy to help as understanding stakeholders´ challenges, adopting to them and coming up with tailored solutions along with a supportive attitude to master the tasks for all involved efficiently is always our goal.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.