Ship Management International column - Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) non-compliance is a hazard to be avoided

Ship Management International column - Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) non-compliance is a hazard to be avoided

Climate change and damage to the environment is at the top of the agenda for nation states, corporations and financial institutions when forming policy decisions. The EU has focused on shipping to ensure
that ship recycling occurs in the most environmentally safe way possible. Effective green recycling can only be achieved if the hazardous materials within the ship and equipment are known and recorded. It is up to the ship owner or the ship manager to do so.

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR) came in to force in 2013, it dictates that all ships, regardless of flag, calling at EU ports are required to carry an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM). The IHM applies to all materials that are part of a ship’s structure as well as other fixed instruments throughout the ship’s hull. Since 2013, it has been an obligation of the responsible party of any vessel to keep a comprehensive and up to date log of all materials present. From December 2019, it is mandatory for the ship to hold a certificate of compliance with the regulation. This is no easy task!

Hazardous material surveys must be arranged by the manager on all ships calling at an EU port. The surveyor will take a sample of the hazardous materials, and if satisfied, will issue a certificate of compliance. There are occasions when hazardous materials are known to be present but its location does not present an immediate risk so it is left alone. If a hazardous material is known to be present, it is important to advise the surveyor, so the risk can be assessed. It can take a surveyor a number of months to issue a certificate of compliance depending on the size and complexity of the ship.

Although there was a long time to prepare for the enforcement of the regulation in December 2019, many ships are still not compliant. To complicate matters further, COVID-19 has restricted access to those who could provide certification. Surveyors have struggled to get onboard ships to carry out an IHM survey. Thankfully, following the advice of classification societies, the European Commission has issued an extension on the deadline up until the end of June 2021. There is still time to get this done.

The manager cannot just arrange for an IHM and forget about it. It is crucial that the IHM is maintained throughout the life of the ship. A manager must ensure that every material in every part of the ship that would fall within the scope of the regulations, including new materials are recorded. Material declarations must therefore be obtained from all vendors when purchasing a part for the ship and that material logged in the IHM.

A Port State may ask to see the IHM upon a ship’s call. In June 2021, when the extension expires for compliance, if the ship is still not compliant it could face fines, detention at the port or exclusion from the ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of the Port State. If this is as a result of the ship manager’s failure to put in place adequate procedures for compliance, the owner will recover their losses against them.

If not already done it is vital that ship managers arrange for IHM surveys to be carried out to avoid non-compliance

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