Tarmac Marine tried to cover asbestos with standard paint until a crew member raised the alert with the seaman’s union Nautilus and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Tarmac Marine Ltd was fined on Friday 7 April a total of £130,544.57, for failing to properly deal with asbestos which was detected on one of their vessels and keeping their crew safe, in a prosecution brought by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
Tarmac Marine Ltd  pleaded guilty to the offences and was fined £120,000 by Southampton Magistrates Court.
The company has been ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and £10,424.57 towards the cost of the prosecution.

In January 2014 a survey found the presence of asbestos in pipework from the build in 2008 of the 96 metre dredger, the ‘City of Westminster, which has 12 crew operating around the UK. It was recommended  that this should be dealt with immediately, however, Tarmac Marine failed to act on this report and the crew were not informed of the presence of the asbestos on the vessel.

The issue resurfaced in January 2016 when the vessel was required to produce an asbestos free certificate to the Port of Tyne in order for it to berth. This certificate was requested by the ship’s master from the Tarmac Marine management based in Chichester. However, the ‘City of Westminster’ crew were asked by managers to paint over the affected parts of the craft with standard paint, in order to cover over the asbestos.

The crew refused the request and Tarmac Marine management were forced to alert them that the pipework contained asbestos. A crew member informed the seaman’s union Nautilus and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency were alerted under their whistle blowing policy.

Tarmac Marine pleaded guilty to four offences contrary to the Merchant Shipping Act Health & Safety and Asbestos regulations including failing to carry out a risk assessment of exposure to asbestos by the crew, failing to have an asbestos management plan in place and failing to provide relevant information to workers.

Captain Jeremy Smart, Head of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Enforcement Unit, said: “Despite documented knowledge of the presence of asbestos in the vessel’s pipework, the crew were never warned of this danger and were allowed to continue working in those areas none the wiser.  Tarmac Marine Ltd have shown scant regard for their employees and have failed in their responsibilities to keep their workforce as safe as it should be.  The risks from asbestos exposure are well known and that is why the health and safety regulations require specific measures to be taken. We hope that this successful prosecution sends a strong message to shipping and maritime companies, no matter what their size, that the risks from asbestos will be taken seriously and action will be taken so more lives aren’t put in danger in the future. We are grateful that this case was brought to our attention through the intervention of one of the crew concerned and I would urge anyone in a similar position who knows of serious noncompliance of health and safety rules, pollution control or anything else untoward to contact the Maritime & Coastguard.”