Section 3: Survey and inspection processes—obligations as an accredited surveyor

In accordance with the regulations, you must fulfill certain obligations as an accredited surveyor. This section sets out our expectations for accredited surveyors and how you conduct your business in accordance with the regulations.

As an accredited surveyor you must:

  • only carry out a function in relation to the survey or inspection of a vessel, its fittings or equipment, in accordance with your approved categories of accreditation
  • conduct a survey of a domestic commercial vessel in accordance with the standard that applies to that vessel
  • notify us if you become aware of a defect, non-conformity or a matter not covered by a standard or code
  • be familiar with the conditions in the regulations
  • maintain your professional indemnity insurance and professional association membership
  • provide any information that is relevant to your accreditation requested by us
  • maintain awareness of any changes to maritime standards throughout your accreditation
  • carry your surveyor ID card when conducting any survey.

Frequency, scope and depth of survey

The frequency, scope and depth of periodic survey inspections for all vessels, other than grandfathered vessels, is to be in accordance with Annex E of NSAMS 4.

For a vessel grandfathered under the existing vessel provisions in Marine Order 503, the vessel may continue being surveyed at the same frequency, scope and depth as it was before 1 July 2013.

The owner of a grandfathered vessel may choose to have their vessel surveyed in accordance with the survey frequency, scope and depth specified in Annex E of NSAMS 4.

The survey frequency, scope and depth that a vessel was subject to before 1 July 2013 may be determined by contacting the relevant marine safety agency.

Making a recommendation

Any recommendation must be in writing on the Survey recommendation form. Initial surveys including modifications or alterations must use:

Periodic surveys must use Survey report and recommendation form 901. It is not acceptable to use Accredited Surveyors recommendation form 606 to the National Regulator only for periodic surveys.

Assessments assist in providing qualitative and quantitative reporting. A report should detail what has been completed during the survey and specifically note anything that has not been conducted and why.

All supporting documentation must be provided with your recommendation. Photographs are a good source of evidence and should be provided wherever possible.

Recording and reporting of deficiencies

If, during the conduct of a periodic survey, you become aware of a defect or non-conformity relating to the vessel or a thing on the vessel, then you are required to report this matter to us as soon as possible. If you do not have your own quality management system, you need to record and report a defect or non-conformity using Survey activity report. The defect should be properly identified, so that it is unambiguous to a third party. Details such as the extent of damage, location on the vessel, and relevant standards are important information.

The original is to be provided to the owner and copies are to be provided to AMSA and kept for your records. The owner’s copy should be provided to them at the time you communicate the outcomes of the survey to them.

Relying on others

When you are relying on other people or sources, you must:

  • make such enquiries as required to ensure that the results are reliable.
  • ensure that the results expressly verify compliance with the required standards.

Where you verify third party documentation, you should take a copy or photograph for your records.

Novel vessels and novel or complex matters

AMSA may categorise a vessel as a novel vessel. A novel vessel must be constructed and maintained in accordance with the class rules of a recognised organisation, unless it has been exempted from this requirement.

If during the survey of any vessel you encounter a matter that is complex or novel, and is not covered by the applicable standard or code, you are required to report the matter to AMSA in writing as soon as practicable.

Workplace health and safety

Under work health and safety laws, you have a duty to take reasonable care for your own health and safety, and to take reasonable care so that your acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons at the workplace.

The National Law also places general safety duty obligations relating to domestic commercial vessels.

You should seek and rely on detailed expert advice on what should be done to discharge applicable work health and safety obligations in the specific circumstances of your activities.

AMSA expects all accredited surveyors to hold a current confined space entry certification and a current working at heights certification.

Conflict of interest

Conditions of accreditation

You must not conduct a survey of a DCV if, in conducting the survey, there would be a conflict of interest between your duties as an accredited surveyor and any other interest or duties you may have. There is one exception: approval of your own vessel design in the category of ‘initial survey – plan approval’.

In addition, you must not conduct a survey if your, or a person you are related to owns or occupies (including working on) any part of the vessel. Being ‘related to’ includes family connections, contractual arrangements and being an employer, partner or employee of the person, or having the same employer as the person.

The obligation on accredited marine surveyors to not conduct a survey if there would be a conflict of interest is at section 37 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Regulation 2013.

It is important to note that managing a conflict of interest is not an acceptable alternative to having no conflict.

What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest is a situation where a person who is in a position of trust has competing professional and personal interests.

Such competing interests can make it difficult for the person to fulfil his or her duties impartially and objectively. Further, competing interests can create room for bias, which may be real or perceived, when others look at the situation. This can undermine confidence in the professional, their activity, and the outcome, even if no improper acts occur.

The existence of a conflict of interest may not, in and of itself, be evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, for many professionals across a wide range of industries, it is virtually impossible to avoid having conflicts of interest from time to time. Similarly, there is often confusion about what constitutes a conflict of interest. As can be seen from the conditions of the accreditation scheme, conflict of interest rules are often implemented to make this clear although they may seem restrictive.

When someone is challenged about having a conflict of interest, they may deny that a conflict exists because they have not, and would not, act improperly. A conflict of interest can exist even if there are no improper acts as a result of it.

One way to better understand this concept is to use a different term like conflict of roles.

As an example the role of an accredited surveyor may include identifying engineering problems on board a vessel that need to be resolved. The same person may have the capability to provide design consulting services to resolve engineering problems. Even if no wrong doing occurs, a situation like this provides opportunity for a perceived conflict to exist because the roles are seen to be incompatible:

  • That surveyor is just identifying defects on my vessel to generate work for themselves.
  • That surveyor chose to ignore the issue because they don’t want to admit the solution they provided doesn’t work.

Even if an improper act does not occur, the perception and potential for one to occur undermines the integrity of the national law and the reputation of accredited marine surveyors as a whole.

A conflict of interest can also become a legal matter, for example, when an individual influences the outcome of a decision for their own personal benefit or for the benefit of others to whom they are related in some way. Conducting surveys where there is a conflict of interest is a breach of the conditions of accreditation and is grounds for suspension or revocation of accreditation by AMSA.

When considering if there is a conflict of interest, there are a few key questions you need to ask:

  • Would you be able to defend your actions as being objective if there is a complaint about the services you have been providing?
  • Would you be able to defend your actions as being free from bias (real or perceived) to a disinterested bystander?
  • Would your professional indemnity insurance cover you in this circumstance? (check with your insurer)
  • Do the relevant conditions on your accreditation prohibit you doing a survey for this person / organisation?

You should also consider seeking independent advice if you are unsure if a conflict exists.


To ensure the integrity of the scheme, AMSA will audit you throughout your accreditation. The matters that may be audited include:

  • recommendations you make including and any accompanying documentation
  • the processes you follow to conduct a survey
  • the conduct of your surveying under your QMS or in accordance with this manual
  • the records you keep.

Retention of records

All documents you create are subject to audit and must be available to AMSA if requested. You must keep records about any recommendation for a period of seven years from the day the recommendation is made.

AMSA expects that records are:

  • accurate and reflect the true condition of the vessel subject to assessment
  • adequate for the purpose for which they are kept
  • original records, and where this is not the case, clearly stipulated as being otherwise
  • complete and contain all information required
  • maintained for the required period after their initial use / issue
  • meaningful in their content and reflective of the context in which they were created in the first instance.

You must not engage in conduct which results in the destruction, damage or disposal of a document which has been used or created in connection with the preparation of a survey report.

Last updated: 16 November 2017
Last reviewed: 16 November 2017