Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Lifejacket safety examples

A new version of Marine Order 504 is now in effect.
Get on board with lifejacket wear
Lifejacket wearing - what to consider

From 1 August 2023, lifejacket wear requirements must be addressed in your Safety Management System’s (SMS) risk assessment and written procedures.

  • Have you consulted with your master and crew about the risks of a person overboard event?
  • Do you have risk factors like solo operations, on deck during heavy weather, vessel transfers, working over the side, coastal bar crossings, tender operations, rail height <800mm, night-time operations and emergency situations?
  • Does your state or territory have laws requiring lifejacket wear on DCVs in any circumstance?
  • Are you already required to wear a lifejacket under the NSCV (eg. Part C1 or G)?
  • Do you carry a non-float-free EPIRB, on the vessel without level flotation, that is <7.5m long and operating in B or C waters?
  • Does your certificate of survey, certificate of operation, non-survey permit or exemption have a condition requiring lifejacket wear?
  • If lifejackets are not worn, are they readily available when needed?
  • Have you considered all the risks and any mandatory requirement, and updated your risk assessment to include lifejacket wear?
  • Based on your updated risk assessment, have you developed a written procedure for when a lifejacket must be worn?
  • Are your master and crew familiar with the lifejacket wear requirement and have they been drilled on these as per the SMS?

Review your risk assessment every 12 months and following any incidents.

Download and print our Get on board with lifejacket wear checklist. PDF162.95 KB

lifejacket tile


Example scenarios to get you thinking

4.6m fishing vessel (Class 3D) with 55kW propulsion power 

This fishing vessel operates within sheltered water limits and no more than 1nm from land at any given time.  

This is a single person operation where the owner is also the master. 

Although the owner doesn’t operate their vessel during bad weather, they have identified through their risk assessment that the possibility of falling overboard is high due to the nature of the work they undertake (leaning over the side to set and retrieve pots).

They have also considered their ability to get back onto the vessel and that they have no other person to help them if the worst happens and they do go overboard. 

Based on their risk assessment, the owner includes a short statement in their written procedures that they will wear a PFD automatic inflation style lifejacket at all times.

They also include that they will wear a personal locator beacon (PLB) that is registered with AMSA. 


6.2m commercial diving vessel (Class 2C) with 110kW propulsion power 

This vessel operates within 5nm seawards of the coast for the purpose of commercial diving with a maximum of five persons onboard. The owner is also the master of the vessel. 

The owner has a compliant safety management system, however, in consultation with their crew is reviewing their risk assessment and written procedures to consider the new lifejacket wear requirements.

They consider the areas where they operate, weather conditions, type of work they undertake and that the crew all wear full wetsuits, that have a certain level of buoyancy, at all times. 

Based on their risk assessment, the owner has determined that lifejackets only need to be worn in an emergency (capsize, collision, flooding etc.) or at such times that the weather conditions deteriorate.

As lifejacket wear is already included in their emergency procedures policy, they develop a short statement to this affect in their written procedures, induction and training documents. 


24.9m passenger vessel (Class 1C) with 202kW propulsion power 

This passenger vessel typically operates within 15nm seaward of the coast undertaking several different operations including as a ferry service between a local island and the mainland, sunset cruises and private hire for parties. 

The owner, in consultation with the master and crew, is reviewing their risk assessment and written procedures to ensure they have considered all likely risks that may require lifejacket wear.

They consider the different operations they undertake, consumption of alcohol by passengers, vessel design (e.g., multiple decks, rail height etc.), passenger supervision (e.g., crew on each deck, CCTV cameras), night-time operations and crew training. 

Based on their risk assessment, the owner has determined that lifejackets only need to be worn in an emergency (capsize, collision, flooding etc.).

They update their passenger safety induction to ensure they clearly explain and demonstrate how to don a lifejacket correctly.

They also ensure that the lifejackets are stowed in a location that makes them readily available should they be needed. 


State or territory law requires you to wear a lifejacket on your domestic commercial vessel 

The owner of a vessel contacts their local marine agency to enquire if they need to wear a lifejacket on their domestic commercial vessel.

They are advised that they will need to wear a lifejacket when undertaking a coastal bar crossing. 

Having considered all the other likely risks associated with their operation in consultation with their master and crew, the owner updates their risk assessment to include lifejacket wear as a control measure when crossing coastal bars.

The owner then includes a short statement in their written procedure identifying this requirement. This is also included as part of their induction and training program. 

Lifejacket safety tips!

Wear the PFD that works for you  

How useful is a lifejacket if you aren’t wearing it?   

When a person falls overboard, what factors determine how long they can survive?   

Today’s lifejackets are comfortable and don’t limit movement