Which lifejacket do I need? 

Thursday 28 May 2020
On 18 May, a 48-year-old seafarer was lost overboard the fishing trawler, K-Vern, during  operations off the Sunshine Coast.

Despite exhaustive search and rescue efforts, the crewman hasn’t been found and the incident is under investigation.

This tragedy is a reminder to all seafarers to wear a lifejacket at all times while working on deck. 

Lifejackets must be available and easily accessible to each person on board your commercial vessel.  

The national law requires you to have either Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) or coastal lifejackets on your vessel, depending on your operational area.  

SOLAS and coastal lifejackets are designed to be worn while abandoning a vessel.  They are bulky, with flotation material at the front so an unconscious person will automatically roll onto their back. They also have reflective tape and a whistle to attract attention. 

SOLAS and coastal lifejackets are made to different standards, with SOLAS lifejackets designed to help people stay afloat in water for longer periods of time, while awaiting rescue.

Certain models of inflatable lifejackets also meet the NSCV standard for coastal lifejackets—if they are manufactured to the correct standard. Because they are less cumbersome to wear than a traditional coastal and SOLAS lifejacket, this makes them ideal to wear during normal activities on a vessel to reduce the risk of drowning if you fall overboard.  

Check out our safety equipment lists for each service category

Operational area Lifejacket requirement

B Extended offshore

B Offshore

SOLAS with a light for every person on board (crew and passengers). Child-sized SOLAS life jackets with a light for at least 10 per cent of children passengers weighing less than 32 kg.

C Restricted offshore

C Restricted offshore – specified areas

Coastal lifejacket* with a light for every person on board (crew and passengers).

D - partially smooth water

E – smooth water

Coastal lifejacket* for every person on board (crew and passengers).

Note: The requirement may be different if you operate under an exemption or under grandfathering arrangements.

* Certain models of personal flotation device (PFD) are acceptable for use as a coastal lifejacket if they are manufactured to one of the following standards.

  • AS 4758.1 (level 150)

  • ISO 12402-3 (Level 150)

  • BS EN 396

Read more about the K-Vern incident