IBIA Intervenes at IMO in MSDS Safety Debate

Monday, April 23, 2007
International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has made a submission to IMO urging the early adoption of a sensible and practical system covering the provision of Material Data Safety Certificates (MSDSs), and a revision of MSC 150 (77), the IMO resolution incorporating MSDS recommendations. IBIA made its intervention at the eleventh meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee’s (MSC) Bulk Liquids & Gases (BLG 11) subcommittee in London on April 19. In doing so, it was following up its comments at the MSC82 meeting in Istanbul in December last year that current proposals relating to the mandatory supply and carriage of MSDSs in connection with MAPROL Annex 1 cargoes and marine fuel oils were “severely flawed and unworkable”. Following that IBIA submission, the MSC agreed to take IBIA’s comments into account when adopting a draft resolution covering MSDS to SOLAS regulation V1/5-1.

In its BLG 11submission, IBIA noted, “ IBIA and the international bunker industry strongly support the safety of seafarers, and the MSDS is an essential tool to provide advice to seafarers regarding the products they are asked to handle and manage – in this case, bunker fuel and Annex 1 cargoes comprising hydrocarbons of various sorts. “MSDSs are not intended to be – nor should they be – certificates of product quality. It is standard practice today to provide MSDSs at the point of delivery of bunkers to the ship. In other words, this aspect of SOLAS Chapter 6 Regulation 5/1 is already happening.”

Referring to the mandatory application of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) cited in the MSC proposals, IBIA told BLG11, “At the present moment, not one major trading nation has fully implemented the GHS system. Within Europe, the EU has yet to draft a proposal on the adoption of GHS. IBIA therefore recommends that, in the interim, IMO considers the application of ‘best practice’ today, which is either ISO 11014 or the MSDS format and legal requirements currently mandated by the nation issuing the MSDS.” IBIA concluded by reiterating its full commitment to improving and maintaining safety and to the introduction of GHS as soon as appropriate. “We wish to ensure,” said IBIA, “that the draft SOLAS Chapter 6 Regulation 5/1 ensures that these objectives are met in practice for the benefit of the seafarer.” IBIA chairman Fritz Fredriksen says, “IBIA wants a solution which benefits seafarers while retaining the processes and procedures recommended by experts in the field of MSDS. We have asked BLG 11 to take appropriate steps to address the concerns that we have raised. IBIA offers its support, expertise and resources to assist with any process or amendments to MSC 150 (77).”

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