Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Guidelines for a safety management system

3 October 2023

Safety management systems (SMS) ensure commercial vessels are maintained and operated safely. If you own or operate a DCV, including those under grandfathered arrangements, you are required by law to implement and maintain a SMS, including those that are exempt from needing a certificate of operation.

Safety management systems cover key elements such as safe operating procedures, the qualifications and training of the vessel’s crew, vessel maintenance, emergency procedures, health and safety considerations and continuous improvement.

At any time, your SMS may be assessed by AMSA, as part of your obligations under the general safety duty obligations.

This guide provides information, checklists and templates you can use to develop your SMS. You can also download the templates as separate files.