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AMSA Update 17 November 2023 by Steve Whitesmith (WA liaison officer)




Marine Order 504 – Changes came into effect on 1 August 2023. A reminder that changes to Marine Order 504 came into effect on 1 August 2023. If you haven’t already, now is the time to review and reassess your:

• Safety management system

• Lifejacket wear requirements

• Crewing determination

• Risk assessment


Go to the AMSA website for further details:


Focussed inspection campaign lifejacket risk assessment

From 1 October 2023 to 30 November 2023, AMSA is conducting a focused inspection campaign (FIC) on lifejacket risk assessment requirements for DCV’s.

The FIC will largely focus on the lifejacket risk assessment requirements which were introduced in a revised Marine Order 504 (Certificates of operation and operation requirements) on 1 August 2023. The FIC will also touch the training and drill requirements for emergency procedures.

AMSA inspectors will check compliance with these new operational safety requirements at the same time they conduct a normal vessel inspection. The following questions will be asked:

• Does the risk assessment identify when lifejackets must be worn?

• Other than during an emergency, does the risk assessment identify any other circumstances when a lifejacket must be worn?

• Are there written procedures for the management and wearing of lifejackets?

• Are the lifejackets readily available in the case of an emergency?

• Does the training in emergency procedures include use of the vessel’s life-saving equipment?

• Are the emergency drills conducted with a frequency determined by the risk assessment for the vessel?

Further lifejacket risk assessment details can be found at:


Have your say on standards for safety equipment carriage on domestic commercial vessels. AMSA wants to know what you think about proposed changes to standards for the carriage of safety equipment on domestic commercial vessels.

These requirements are contained in Part C7A of the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV). AMSA is updating the standard to ensure that people can benefit from:

• recent advances in safety equipment technology

• alignment with updated Australian and international standards

• lessons learnt through industry experience

The proposed changes to the draft NSCV C7A include:

• new compliance options for some safety equipment, including lifejacket, life-rafts, and first aid carriage standards

• clarity on several issues raised by industry

• simpler format

• plain language explanations

AMSA is proposing a two-year transitional period to assist operators who may need to update some items of safety equipment. We anticipate the new NSCV C7A will come into effect after January 2025.


General Purpose Hand (GPH) certificates of competency

Anyone can undertake the tasks of a GPH provided they are directly supervised by an appropriately certified seafarer.

If a seafarer is not directly supervised and holds no other seafarer certificate of competency, then the GPH certificate of competency means that the seafarer can undertake the following tasks whilst under general supervision;


Deck work: means operation or lookout tasks for any of the following:

• navigation

• mooring

• anchoring

• cargo


Engine work: means tasks related to main or auxiliary machinery used for any of the following:

• propulsion

• mooring

• anchoring and;

• cargo

If you don't perform these deck or engine tasks on a domestic commercial vessel (including fishing vessels) you may not need a GPH CoC.


Direct supervision: means that the person being supervised is frequently within sight and hearing of the supervisor. This provides for the supervisor to be in a position to step in, or take action, to stop an unsafe situation.


It remains the responsibility of the vessel owner and master to assess the level of supervision provided to their crew in relation to their level of competency. This should be captured in writing in the safety management system and is an essential part of ensuring the owner and master meet the appropriate crewing requirements under Schedule 1 of Marine Order 504. This should include a risk assessment which considers factors such as the crew member’s experience, training required/undertaken, the type of operations being undertaken, vessel configuration and the functions/duties of the supervisor and crew member.


Fishing duties/tasks: relates to functions not including the items defined as ‘deck work’ or ‘engine work’ for a GPH, such as setting nets, pulling pots, sorting/filleting catch etc. These duties do not require the crew member to hold a GPH certificate of competency.

The onus is still however on the owner and master to ensure they have adequately considered the risks, level of supervision and training required by the crew as per the second paragraph under direct supervision response above.


Incident reporting:

Owners and masters are reminded of the need to report marine incidents to AMSA using Form 18 (incident alert) and Form 19 (incident report).

These forms can be found at: Marine incident reporting (amsa.gov.au)

Prompt and accurate incident reporting allows AMSA to develop more effective safety strategies and advice for owners, operators and seafarers to avoid similar events in the future. For example the monthly Safety Lessons that are available on the AMSA website are a useful tool: Monthly safety lessons (domestic) (amsa.gov.au)


AMSA is there to help. Should you or your crew have questions or concerns about the National Law, please feel free to contact Steve Whitesmith, AMSA LIAISON OFFICER


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