How to operate your DCV safely

Domestic commercial vessel operations vary widely across Australia.

The implications of COVID-19 have been different for everyone. 

Check port access in your state

You should know what restrictions apply to port access in your state and or territory. The regulations and directions will change as governments adapt to deal with outbreaks of COVID-19. 

Some states and territory governments will temporarily restrict access to vessels from other states. Some restrictions may apply for travel within a state. 

Check WHS regulations in your state

Manage the risks

Take a risk assessment approach.

This means having control measures for your operation as well as abiding by government health advice. For example: if you are operating a large vessel on a day trip in calm weather: you can comply with social distancing (1.5 metres) by spreading crew apart.   

Review the risk assessment of your vessel’s safety management system (SMS).

Your SMS should include the following:

Know the symptoms

Have a look at the Australian Department of Health COVID-19 symptom checker and look out for each other.

Update pre-departure measures

COVID-19 procedures should be a part of vessel induction and pre-departure briefings. 

COVID-19 procedures should now be a part of your daily vessel induction and pre-departure briefings. 

Your pre-departure and briefing should include: 

  • Assess crew before boarding to make sure they have no symptoms and are not sick.
  • Make sure crew know how to follow the government advice about hand and respiratory hygiene (coughing and sneezing).
  • Make sure everyone knows where the hygiene products are located on the vessel (e.g. hand sanitiser, tissues).
  • Make sure the crew and passengers use the bins to dispose of tissues.

Social distancing

The Department of Health has the details of social distancing requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Cleaning your vessel

COVID-19 can also spread by people touching shared work objects or surfaces.

These can be: 

  • handles 
  • railings
  • bathroom surfaces
  • equipment

These can become contaminated from a cough or sneeze and then you might become infected when you touch them then you touch your mouth or face. 

The Safe Work Australia has guidance on cleaning and disinfection.

If a crew or passenger displays COVID-19 symptoms

If a crew or passenger displays COVID-19 symptoms:

  • isolate the person
  • phone the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080)
  • keep contact to a minimum
  • give the person their own linen, plates, cutlery etc.  
  • keep their washing separate from the rest of the crew
  • make sure the person wears a surgical mask and gloves
  • if you are caring for the person you should wear a surgical mask and gloves

Voyages that are 14 days and longer

Crew may be considered clear of COVID-19 infection if a vessel has:

  • conducted 14 days at sea
  • had no contact with other people 
  • no crew has shown COVID-19 symptoms 

The same 14-day protocol is used for crew on international vessels coming into Australian ports. 

Make sure you know the latest state and territory port entry requirements. 

Interactions with other vessels

In some sectors, including some fisheries, you might have social contact with other vessels anchored in the same location. 

These interactions should be avoided or conducted with precautions. For example, bring a tender alongside without boarding.  

Short port visits 

If you make a short port visit to offload catch or take aboard stores, the crew should.

  • Try to avoid or minimise contact with other people. 
  • Return to the vessel immediately after completing the task.
  • Wash hands immediately on boarding.

Dive operations

This advice is specific to operations that involve diving.

These are recommended by the Australian Dive Accreditation Scheme.  

Mental health and wellbeing

It is important that are and feel crew supported during the current crisis.  

The following resources can help:

More information from us

We will continue to assist owners, operators, masters and crew of domestic commercial vessels. 

Last updated: 

Tuesday 14 November 2023