Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Safety management systems

A safety management system (also referred to as an SMS) is a systematic approach to managing safety.

By following established policies, practices and procedures you ensure the safety of vessels and the people on board.

All domestic commercial vessels must have a safety management system (SMS). This system will demonstrate and document how your vessel meets the mandatory general safety duties.

Your vessel’s SMS should be based on a risk assessment of your operations. It should describe how safety, maintenance and operation is managed on your vessel.

Resources to help you develop a safety management system

A safety management system is not just a document—it must be put into practice and be effective.

We provide tools and resources to help you develop and assess the health of your safety management system:

Assessing your SMS

You can use the following safety management system tools to assess the health of your safety management system. There are two different tools available. Choose the one appropriate to your vessel:

You may also contact us to help you review and assess your safety management system, or to get information about meeting your general safety duties. We may conduct periodic reviews of your safety management system and operations.

Legislative requirements

Class 1 to 4 vessels SMS requirements are contained in marine order 504 and in particular, schedules 1 and 2.

The SMS can either be compliant to schedule 1 of marine order 504 or ISM Code part A (Class 1, 2 and 3 vessels only), with the addition of paragraphs 2(3)(d), 7(6)(b) and 7(6)(c) of Schedule 1 of marine order 504.

The owner, operator, master, and crew of each vessel must be involved in developing and reviewing the risk assessment.

Weather safety

Refer to the Bureau of Meteorology guidelines for domestic commercial vessel weather safety.

Last updated: 15 May 2024