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Identifying hazardous materials on board

"An IHM report not only increases workplace safety, it also enhances a company’s reputation and helps maximize a vessel’s value.” Vladimiro Bonamin tells about the impact and execution of an Inventory of Hazardous Materials in Marine Propulsion.

Health and safety on board is subject to an increasing number of laws and regulations. By the end of 2018, an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) will be mandatory for all newbuild vessels. As of 2021, it will apply to all seagoing vessels of more than 500 tons.

Why an IHM?

An IHM is part of the Hong Kong Convention adopted by IMO in 2009. This convention was designed to make sure that ships and offshore platforms are dismantled in a manner that minimises risk to people and the environment. An IHM report will not only state which hazardous materials are present, it also specifies the quantities, locations, conditions and risks associated to health. Already considered best practice, the benefits of an IHM are widely acknowledged across the industry.

Specifically, an IHM identifies all hazardous substances on board, including mercury, leaded paint, chromium-6 or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s); contributes to a safe workplace for employees; ensures that a ship can be dismantled safely, with low risks for people and environment and ensures a vessel is compliant with current and future regulations, such as SOLAS and Marpol.

But that is not all. An IHM also provides the necessary tools to take further actions, promoting the safety, usability and durability of ships, ensures a strong position in liability issues, increases the likelihood of higher resale values and also help establish and promote a company’s environmental credentials, an important factor when pitching for business to oil and gas companies that are increasingly sensitive to their environmental reputations.

Rapid results

An IHM includes research as well as onboard testing. An inspector collects samples from the ship to be analysed in accredited laboratories. Our laboratories are located near all major ports around the world and analyses can be performed during loading or unloading in the harbor. If needed, an inspection can be carried out during a voyage, mitigating any impact on the voyage time of the vessel. An inspection takes one to two working days and the results are usually available within one week. The costs of the inspection depends on the size of the vessel, the complexity of the inspection and the availability of necessary documentation.

Safety in the entire lifecycle

An IHM report should be maintained throughout a vessel’s entire lifecycle. During the building stage, the shipyard – in cooperation with the shipowner – can set up the IHM based on material declarations. An (updated) IHM is required when changes take place in the operational stage, for example, after intensive docking of the ship. At the end of the ship’s economic life, the IHM report is a major source of information for its recycling plan, so that it can be dismantled safely.

Found out more about our service or contact expert Wouter Hagens via or + 31 (0)88 214 66 00.

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