The company notes that it is not enough for procurement departments to simply say that materials should be ‘asbestos-free’ and more needs to be done to specify what this means as part of their standard terms and conditions of business.
“The problem is that whilst asbestos use is banned in most countries, the material can and does still infiltrate the supply chain, with the term asbestos free having different thresholds in different parts of the world. In addition, with the lack of any consistent or agreed non-asbestos testing or certification systems, the product claims are reliant only on a ‘Manufactures Declaration’ that a product is asbestos free,” explains John Chillingworth, senior marine principal at Lucion.
As a result, although asbestos has been banned from ships since July 2002, it is still very common for the material to be found in large numbers of vessels of all types.
In the USA, asbestos free standards can still mean up to 1.0% asbestos content might be present in parts and components, while in the EU it is 0.1% and 0% in Australia. In the Far East, China has no official standard and Lucion has found that in work with ship owners and shipyards as much as 15% asbestos can be included in materials that have been declared asbestos free.
This means that, even if a newly built ship is actually asbestos free, the vessel can still be contaminated through items that are subsequently brought on board by the owners or repairers.
In response, Lucion recommends companies to ensure that their procurement terms and conditions adequately protect against infiltration of the supply chain with asbestos containing components.
“The company term and conditions should also highlight that during ongoing maintenance and inspection programmes undertaken as part of a ship’s Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM), random sampling of materials and products will be undertaken. If asbestos is detected in any part, component or material supplied to a vessel it will be replaced and the original supplier will be held responsible for its replacement," says John Chillingworth.
“Given international differences in what asbestos free actually means, we believe that all vessels should be compliant and consistent with the highest standards, and that suppliers need to understand that 0% asbestos content should mean precisely that.”