01:56 pm, Tuesday 10 April, 2012
The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers warned that Australian maritime workers are still being exposed to the deadly asbestos fibres on board foreign registered ships which have been discovered to be carrying fake documents certifying that they are asbestos-free.
The Age reports that vessels, including tug boats brought into Australia, continue to put seafarers’ lives at risk.
The claims are in public submission to a federal government inquiry into asbestos management. The submission says that the International Maritime Organisation has already sent out warnings that ship fire blankets, wall and ceiling covers, insulation materials and fuses contain asbestos.
Federal laws introduced in 2005 prevented the importation of vessels containing asbestos, but the institute confirmed that ships containing asbestos continue to arrive for operation in the country while carrying “asbestos free” certificates.
“There are many examples of these certificates having been proven to be false by subsequent inspection by reputable Australian authorities,” it said.
According to the submission, there was a problem in enforcing Australian health and safety laws on foreign-flagged ships, which hinders efforts to achieve asbestos free workplaces. It revealed that eight tug boats carrying asbestos free certificates were detected with asbestos during inspections, but were still allowed to operate.
The institute’s assistant federal secretary, Martin Byrne brought the issue to the Seacare Authority and Australian Maritime Safety Authority last year, warning that “the issue of asbestos is not just a blight on our industrial history, but is a continuing concern for seafarers who live and work 24/7 on these vessels.”