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General safety duties for domestic commercial vessels

The general safety duties apply to everyone working on, travelling on, designing, building, or servicing domestic commercial vessels. They are a legal requirement under the national law.

General safety duties apply to all domestic commercial vessels, including those under grandfathering arrangements.

The primary purposes of the general safety duties are to: 

  • minimise and mitigate the risk of incidents involving death, injury or damage
  • encourage the development, maintenance, and continuous improvement of a safety culture within the domestic commercial vessel industry.

General safety duties according to role

Safety duties

Roles

Provide and maintain the vessel so that it is safe.

  • Owner

Provide information, instruction, training or supervision to people on board the vessel as necessary to ensure their safety.

  • Owner

Implement and maintain a safety management system that ensures that the vessel and its operations are safe.

  • Owner

Do not operate, or cause the vessel to be operated, if it is an unsafe vessel.

  • Owner
  • Master

Ensure the safety of the vessel, marine safety equipment, and the operation of the vessel.

  • Owner
  • Master

Do not prevent or restrict the master of the vessel from making or implementing a decision that, in the professional opinion of the master, is necessary for the safety of a person or the vessel.

  • Owner
  • Crew
  • Passenger
  • Other people

Implement and comply with the SMS for the vessel and its operations.

  • Master

Take reasonable care for the safety of persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions.

  • Master
  • Crew
  • Other people

Take reasonable care for own safety.

  • Master
  • Crew
  • Passenger
  • Other people

Do not unreasonably place the safety of another person at risk.

  • Master
  • Crew
  • Passenger
  • Other people

Do not interfere with or misuse any safety equipment provided on the vessel.

  • Master
  • Crew
  • Passenger

Comply with reasonable and lawful directions (of the master and crew).

  • Crew
  • Passenger

Do not do an act, or omit to do an act that may cause the loss, destruction of or serious damage to a vessel.

  • Other people

Take actions to prevent loss of, destruction of, or serious damage to, a vessel.

  • Other people

If you design, commission, construct, manufacture, supply, maintain, repair or modify a domestic commercial vessel or marine safety equipment, you have a duty to ensure it is safe when used for its intended purpose, including:

  • carrying out (or arranging) testing to confirm that the vessel or the marine safety equipment is safe when used for its intended purpose
  • making sure there is adequate information available about the testing that has been carried out, including information on any conditions necessary to ensure the vessel or equipment is safe.
  • Designers
  • Builders
  • Suppliers

Benefits of following the general safety duties

In addition to meeting your legal obligations, the benefits of fulfilling your safety duties include:

  • Immediate safety. You are taking appropriate action to minimise risks for yourself, those around you and the vessel.
  • Shared safety. Each person following their safety duties contributes to a broader level of safety shared by everyone working, travelling designing, building or servicing domestic commercial vessels.
  • Valuable knowledge. When you move between vessels or jobs, you already understand your safety duties.

Safety management systems

One of the key general safety duties of the vessel owner is to implement and maintain a safety management system (also referred to as an SMS). Similarly, a master is required to implement and comply with a safety management system.

There must be a safety management system in place for ALL domestic commercial vessels—even those that are exempt from the certificate of operation. The safety management system must comply with the requirement to have a certificate of operation.

Read more about safety management systems and certificates of operation.

Verifying your compliance with the general safety duties

We can ask you to show evidence that you are complying with your general safety duties at any time. This may be:

  • if you require a certificate of operation—at the time you apply for the certificate of operation
  • during the conduct of our inspections under the national law.

You may be asked to demonstrate that you have thought about the risks and hazards in your operation and taken steps to eliminate or minimise these. Your safety management system will be useful in demonstrating that you are complying with your general safety duties.

This page replaces advisory note DCV-A-029, dated 1 October 2015.

Last updated: 

Tuesday 16 October 2018