Water, water everywhere – but Maritime Labour Convention means onboard ship it must be safe enough to drink
The entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) in August 2013 will for the first time set out regulations specifying the need to maintain high quality drinking water standards onboard ship which protect crew from waterborne health risks.
In response, Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) has launched the Nalfleet Potable Water Test Kit, which enables sea staff to monitor the quality of the potable water network onboard ship, providing tests for common infectious bacteria and in the process reduce the risk of possible risk to health by bacteria proliferation.
The MLC, often described as the fourth pillar of maritime regulation after SOLAS, MARPOL and STW will affect at least 40, 000 ships which will need to be certified upon the convention’s entry into force. Ship owners, managers, shipyards and crew manning agencies must all understand how the MLC 2006 affects them and develop and implement measures to ensure ongoing compliance with its requirements.
Improperly managed water is an established route for infectious disease transmission on ships. In a review of more than 100 outbreaks associated with ships, undertaken by Rooney et al (2004)*, one fifth was attributed to a waterborne route.
Graham Hunter, Technical Sales Director, Chemicals, WSS Singapore says:
“The MLC has been in the process of adoption for some time and it’s fair to say that the maritime industry may still be getting to grips with the scope and reach of its compliance requirements. Developing compliance measures to takes time and we encourage the industry to start this work immediately.
“The quality of fresh water onboard ship may seem a small part of the overall picture but in fact it is very significant, both in terms of crew health protection and in avoiding possible detention for non-compliance. Ships not only need to be inspected and certified within the deadlines, they are required to continue demonstrating that compliance or risk delays or detentions.”
The basic Nalfleet Potable Water Kit includes test equipment for E Coli & Coliform bacteria, chlorine and pH, as well as an incubator and UV Lamp for detection of E Coli bacteria. The inclusion of the incubator ensures a controlled temperature environment and therefore consistent results of bacteria tests. Also included is a comprehensive instruction manual and a video showing how to carry out testing to support crew training and competence.
Owners may also construct a more comprehensive kit including tests for total bacteria count (HPC), Legionella bacteria, colour, turbidity, Intestinal Enterococci, depending on the specific requirements of their flag state.
The kit is available for immediate supply from WSS Service centres in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
* Rooney RM et al. (2004). A review of outbreaks of waterborne disease associated with ships: evidence for risk management. Public Health Reports, 119:435–442