85 per cent of new ships still contain asbestos

5th December 2014

A staggering 85 per cent of new ships still contain asbestos, despite many displaying certificates ‘proving’ they are free of the material, according to a new report.

The use of asbestos on new ships, hovercrafts and other vessels was banned by the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) (Asbestos) Regulations in 2010. Despite this, asbestos is still being discovered, access-legal.co.uk reports.

Although many industry observers believe that shipyards are acting in good faith, they feel they’re being let down by shady suppliers. Now, SOLAS (the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) is insisting that more credible independent asbestos surveys are carried out on new ships, and that suppliers must give declaration that a unit is asbestos free via a formal certificate.

Sara Hunt, a partner with Access Legal specialising in asbestos and mesothelioma claims, said: “I am very concerned to learn about the continued use of asbestos in this way in the ship building industry. The risks associated with the material are now well known and exposure can be fatal.

“One single asbestos fibre can lead to the pernicious and incurable cancer mesothelioma forming as much as 30 to 40 years after the initial exposure.”

More than 2,000 people in the UK die from asbestos-induced illness every year, according to hse.gov.uk.