Asbestos removals are limited to intermediate
maintenance activities, shipyards, or contractors.
Aboard ship you cannot remove asbestos insulation
except in an operational emergency approved by the
The Navy Asbestos Control Program, which is part
of the NAVOSH Program, ensures compliance with
OSHA regulations. It also prevents the exposure of any
Navy personnel to asbestos. The program covers the
Identifying asbestos hazards
Controlling asbestos in the work environment
Following strict work practices
Properly disposing of asbestos waste
Establishing an asbestos medical surveillance
Protecting the environment
Training people to recognize asbestos hazards
and observe necessary precautions
The programs purpose is to protect personnel who,
through their job or in emergency situations, come into
contact with asbestos. If personnel must handle
asbestos, we must ensure they have the proper
protection and training.
The Navy follows upon the health of personnel who
may have been exposed to asbestos in their current work
or in the past through the Asbestos Medical Surveillance
Program. This program monitors the health of personnel
exposed to asbestos before regulations were set. It also
screens personnel currently assigned to emergency
asbestos removal teams.
Asbestos Health Hazards
The danger of asbestos results from the asbestos
fibers that break off into small particles. These fibers are
small enough that, when airborne, you can inhale them.
Once deep in the lungs, the fibers cause scar tissue or
tumors. We now link asbestos fiber exposure with
diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and
mesothelioma. These asbestos diseases may not show
up for 15 or more years after exposure. Most cases of
lung cancer in workers exposed to asbestos occur among
workers who smoke. Workers who smoke and are
exposed to asbestos have chances 90 times greater of
Can you identify asbestos? Can you tell by looking
at lagging whether or not it is asbestos? The only way
to determine if material contains asbestos is to analyze
the materials under a microscope. Every tender and
repair ship and most shore medical facilities have the
microscopes needed to test materials for asbestos and to
analyze suspected material. If in doubt about insulation,
consider it to be dangerous.
Aboard ship, anyone seeing a potential asbestos
hazard (open or torn lagging) should report the hazard
to the chief engineer or safety officer immediately.
Controlling Exposure to Asbestos
You should never try to handle, remove, or repair
suspected asbestos material without proper
authorization and special protective equipment. Each
ship having asbestos on board must have a trained,
3-person asbestos rip-out team for emergencies. This
team receives training, is medically monitored, and has
special protective clothing and equipment available for
use when needed.
For detailed information on asbestos protective
measures, refer to Naval Ships Technical Manual
(NSTM), chapter 635; Thermal, Fire, and Acoustic
Installation, OPNAVINST 5100.19B, chapter B1; and
OPNAVINST 5100.23C, chapter 17.
LEAD CONTROL PROGRAM
We also recognize lead as a serious health hazard.
If you ingest lead, it can damage your nervous system,
blood-forming organs, kidneys, and reproductive
system. Although we normally associate lead in the
Navy with lead-based paints, we also come into contact
with other sources of lead. To prevent lead poisoning
and related injuries during the use, handling, removal,
and melting of materials containing lead, the Navy
developed the Lead Control Program. OPNAVINST
5100.23C, chapter 21, and OPNAVINST 5100.19B,
chapter B10, explain the Lead Control Program.
The following items aboard ship contain lead:
Small arms ammunition
Weights and cable sockets