Have you been a seafarer?

When we talk to them about their work history, one of the more colourful questions we ask people is, ‘Have you been a seafarer?’ It usually brings a smile to people’s faces, as most of them have been determined landlubbers. The nearest they might have got to seafaring is a river cruise down the Rhine or a car ferry crossing from Dover to Calais.

Why we ask the question

But it’s a necessary question. Lloyds, the firm which insures much of the world’s shipping, reported this week that many ships still contain asbestos. Asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding because of its fire resistant and heat insulation properties. In 2002 the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea introduced a limited ban. An outright ban followed in 2011.

Asbestos is still being found on new ships

But Lloyd’s List reports that asbestos is still being found, even on new ships. It says, “Examples included pipework flange gaskets, woven packing and gasket materials, hand pumps, isolation valves and stores.”

Why seafarers are at risk

Lawyer Jonathan Bruce told Lloyds, “Pitching and rolling, the enclosed space of engine rooms and engine vibrations mean that many seafarers will inevitably have been exposed to asbestos.”

Where to find help

If you are concerned, and you live in Central England, you can call our helpline for free advice or send us an email to abestosinfo@wmht.co.uk.

You can read the article from Lloyds’ List here.

Photo by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash

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