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Regulations put spotlight on benzene risks

16 November 2009

Concateno is raising awareness of new international regulations relating to benzene exposure and seafarer welfare. Changes to SOLAS regulation VI/ 5-1 regarding Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) provision for the shipment of MARPOL Annex 1 cargoes come into effect in January 2010.

Regulations put spotlight on benzene risks
Regulations put spotlight on benzene risks

This information highlights the presence of benzene in crude oil, bunker oil and a number of other cargoes. It then details the actions required to reduce attendant risks from exposure to this substance.

In addition, the Maritime Labour Convention, which was adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in February 2006, has been designed to ensure the highest standards of healthcare, safety and welfare for seafarers. This is expected to come into effect in the near future.

Benzene is a highly toxic chemical that is commonly used in industrial and manufacturing processes. Concateno’s unique service for monitoring personnel for exposure to this hazardous compound helps address the issues raised by the new regulations.

"Seafarers might come into contact with Benzene unwittingly through normal operations or following leakages during transit. They can ingest it by inhalation, but also absorb it through the skin. In the short term, exposure to low levels can cause numerous health problems – including tremors, headaches and unconsciousness. Benzene is a significant cause of leukaemia and other blood-related illnesses, and exposure to high concentrations can cause death," said Graham Birch, head of sales for Concateno’s Maritime sector.

"Our test provides a simple, fast and cost-effective means of determining exposure to this hazardous compound," Birch added.

Concateno’s sensitive biomonitoring procedure allows rapid screening of at-risk individuals as required. This helps to identify and minimise potential risk therefore protecting the health of the crew.

"The advantage of this test is in its simplicity – all you need is in one easy-to-use plastic container. A small amount of urine is required in the vials provided, with all the necessary bio-packaging for ready dispatch to the laboratory. Analysis takes a few hours and the results can be faxed or emailed within two days of receipt," explained Birch.

"Our network of staff across all the major shipping routes and international petrochemical locations allows companies to benefit from easy access to this top-rated Benzene service at low cost."

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