Occupational health and safety inspectorate

We are responsible for handling health and safety issues for personnel on prescribed ships that are engaged in trade or commerce on international and domestic voyages.

Prescribed ships

A prescribed ship is:

  • a ship registered in Australia
  • a ship engaged in coastal trading under a general licence within the meaning of the Coastal Trading (Revitalised Australian Shipping) Act 2012
  • a ship (other than the above) on which the majority of crew are residents of Australia and which are operated by persons or firms which have their principal place of business in Australia or are incorporated in Australia
  • a ship declared by the Minister to be a prescribed ship.

Occupational health and safety inspectorate

We have trained occupational health and safety (OHS) inspectors who perform a range of functions, including audits, investigations of accidents and dangerous occurrences, issue of improvement and prohibition notices, advising employers on their duty of care as well as provide advice on health and safety matters. We have the authority to initiate prosecutions for serious breaches which can result in heavy penalties.

Improvement notices

We can issue the person in command of the ship with an improvement notice if an inspector finds there is a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 or its regulations.

Prohibition notices

We can issue the person in command of the ship with a prohibition notice if an inspector finds there is a threat to health or safety. 

Reporting requirements

Operators are required to report accidents as described in section 107(1)(a) and (b) of the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993. You must also report dangerous occurrences as defined under regulation 4 of the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Regulations 1995. All reports must be made to the OHS inspectorate.

Our memorandums of understanding with state occupational health and safety regulators

We have memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with state and territory regulators to provide a safe working environment in all Australian commercial maritime environments.

These MOUs set out the guidelines for how we work with occupational health and safety and workplace health and safety regulators for each state and territory to respond to health and safety issues on vessels and wharves. 

The MOUs generally cover the following topics:

  • Scope of our respective legislation 
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Mechanisms for determining responsibility
  • Working together to maximise safety education and compliance activities to enhance maritime and worker safety
  • Organisational arrangements including marine incident notification, policy and legislation development, education and campaign activities and investigations and prosecutions.

We have MOUs with the following states:


Related information

Last updated: 

Tuesday 14 November 2023