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Have your say on lifejacket wear requirements for domestic commercial vessels

Wednesday 27 October 2021
We are exploring practical ways to increase lifejacket wear on domestic commercial vessels and are now inviting industry feedback.
People watching fish emptied into crate

Since July 2013, 44 people on domestic commercial vessels have fallen overboard and lost their lives. We are taking action to limit this unnecessary loss of life by proposing to make it mandatory to wear a lifejacket on certain domestic commercial vessels. 
 
AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said the review aims to reduce the number of drowning and achieve better safety outcomes for all people on domestic commercial vessels. 
‘Advancements in lifejacket design have made lifejackets more wearable than ever before and are proven to save lives,’ Mick said.  

‘Old excuses that lifejackets are too bulky or awkward and people can’t work in them no longer cut it with modern designs.  

‘Lifejackets on boats are like seatbelts in cars, or hard hats and high-visibility clothes on work sites. We need to make them a normal part of the personal protective equipment on commercial vessels where the risk is real.’  

We are inviting feedback from industry on three different options to achieve increased lifejacket wear. 
 
Option 1 — Mandate lifejacket wear requirements on all domestic commercial vessels, at all times, when on deck.   
 
Option 2 — Mandate lifejacket wear at all times on:  

  • vessels less than 7.5 metres in length 
  • vessels with only one person on board 
  • fishing vessels of any length, when on deck 
  • unpowered barges that do not have railings or means to prevent a person from falling overboard.  

  
All domestic commercial vessel owners and operators will also need to have a documented risk assessment and procedure on lifejacket wear in their safety management system.   
  
Option 3 — Continue with lifejacket carriage requirements and do not introduce lifejacket wear requirements, however, all vessels must have a documented risk assessment and 
procedure on lifejacket wear in their safety management system.  
 
Your feedback will play an important role in helping AMSA develop a policy that is relevant and practical for the domestic commercial vessel industry.  
 
If, following the outcome of this consultation, it is decided that wearing a lifejacket wear should be mandatory, we will consult with industry again on proposed changes to the national law regulatory framework in the first half of 2022.  
 
This initial consultation to gather input from industry will be open until 17 December 2021.  
 
Go to amsa.gov.au/lifejackets to learn more and have your say.