AMSA consultation begins for mandatory lifejacket wear on domestic commercial vessels

Life Jacket Consultation

The  Australian  Maritime  Safety  Authority (AMSA) is inviting  feedback  from the domestic commercial  vessel  industry on aproposal  to  mandate  lifejacket wear on  some  domestic commercial vessels.

Informed  by  safety  data, AMSA  is exploring  options  to  increase  lifejacket  wear  across  the domestic commercial vessel sector, focusing on sectors of the fleet with the greatest risk of a fatality following a person overboard incident.

AMSA  Chief Executive  Officer  Mick  Kinley  said the proposal  aims to  minimise  the  risk  of drowning and achieve greater safety outcomes for all people on domestic commercial vessels.

“Advancements in lifejacket design have made lifejackets more wearable than ever before and are  proven to  save  lives,  especially for people on domestic commercial vessels,” Mr Kinley said.

“Old excuses that lifejackets are too bulky or awkward and people can’t work in them, no longer cut it with modern designs. Lifejackets on boats are like seatbelts in cars or hard hats and high visibility clothes on work sites. We need to make them a normal part of the personal protective equipment on commercial vessels where the risk is real.

”Maritime incident data between July 2018 to June 2021 showed 90 instances where people fell overboard. Of these incidents, 10 were fatal and 48 were categorised as very serious or serious. In 2020 alone, there were four fatalities all involving a crew member drowning after falling overboard.

Currently, the  National  Law  regulatory  framework only mandates when  a lifejacket must  be worn for  a very small  number  of circumstances.  Set  out in  the  National  Standard  for Commercial Vessels, these circumstances relate to the construction of the vessel and do not apply across the board. 

Survivability expert Dr Paul Luckin said “There is no doubt wearing a lifejacket improves both the prospect of staying alive and the likely survival time”. 

The proposal to mandate lifejacket wear requirements will address a key safety issue that has been evidenced through safety data and numerous coronial recommendations. 

AMSA  is  seeking  feedback  on  a  series  of  options  and  questions,  set  out  in  a consultation paper.  The  feedback  received will  help  inform  the  kinds  of  operations where wearing  a lifejacket should be mandated. 

Industry consultation will be open until 17 December 2021. Learn  more  about  the proposal  to  mandate  lifejacket  wear requirements and  submit  your feedback at amsa.gov.au/lifejackets.