The Maritime and Coastguard Agency ensures ships in the United Kingdom conform to UK and international safety rules.

Asbestos Rules Coming to UK Merchant, Fishing Fleets

After the Maritime and Coastguard Agency finishes its consultation with stakeholders, regulations could be in effect by Oct. 1 to implement EC Directive 83/477/EEC and protect workers from asbestos exposure.

Council Directive 1983/477/EC (the Asbestos Directive), a document to ensure EU workers are protected against asbestos exposure, has been implemented for land-based workers by Britain's Health and Safety Executive and Health and Safety Executive (Northern Ireland). Now, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is implementing them for the marine sector. MCA's current consultation will end with the rules applied to new merchant, fishing, and yachting vessels, probably by Oct. 1, 2010, MCA says.

The draft asbestos regulations, an impact assessment, and other supporting documents are available at MCA's site. Sharon Judge, deputy manager (Health & Safety) for MCA's Seafarer Safety & Health Branch (sharon.judge@mcga.gov.uk), is accepting comments until April 26.

Once the regulations are in effect, employers will have to assess risks to their employees, then take appropriate remedial actions when a risk has been identified. Also included in the draft are requirements for:

  • notification of any work relating to asbestos
  • a prohibition of certain activities relating to asbestos
  • that measures be taken to eliminate, or where that is not possible, reduce as far as possible exposure of workers to asbestos
  • air quality measurements
  • compliance with exposure limits
  • identification of any asbestos present, or suspected to be present, before any demolition or maintenance work is done
  • written plans of work before any work involving the potential for exposure to asbestos begins
  • hygiene and individual protection measures taken
  • education and training of workers
  • medical surveillance when the risk assessment identifies a risk to workers as a result of actual or potential exposure to asbestos at work
  • consultation with workers
  • full, proper use of PPE

MCA implements the United Kingdom's maritime safety policy, which includes responsibility for coordinating search and rescue operations at sea and ensuring that ships conform to UK and international safety rules. "Safer Lives, Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas" is its motto.

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