Occupational health and safety: FuelEU Maritime lacks long-term vision

15 Jul 2021

The European Commission has just released its ‘FuelEU Maritime – Green European Maritime Space’ initiative to bring the maritime sector in line with the European target of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

Their initiative highlights that alternative fuels offer attractive options: lower costs, gentler environmental impact, increased efficiency.

But that does not mean that these fuels are perfect. We need to make sure the risks are understood, and regrettably, this is not fully addressed by the initiative.

The use of new fuels will affect seafarers and crewmembers: they will need to have the right skills to handle new, complex hybrid and zero-emission systems. Any gaps in this area could pose serious health and safety risks and would hamper the energy transition. The continued competence of seafarers and crewmembers requires a mandatory programme of training and refresher training. And this should not be framed as an issue of costs or budget; it’s a fundamental safety and security issue.

The ETF, therefore, reminds the European Commission of the importance of ensuring:

  • Personal protective equipment. Employers must prepare workers with necessary protective gear;
  • Safety training;
  • Inspections, safety testing and standards; and
  • The risk of flash fire and gas explosion. Hazards need to be carefully considered in the safety design of vessels and ports

Without delay, the European Commission must consider these aspects to complete the initiative.