AMSA consultation on proposed amendments to safety equipment standards

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority AMSA has developed proposed changes to Safety Equipment Standards covered under National Standard Commercial Vessels (NSCV C7A) and is sharing the proposal for final comments.

Consultation on the draft amendments close on 27 November 2023.

You can have your say here.

The last major amendments to NSCV C7A were in 2018.

AMSA has included recent changes made to both Australian & International standards in the draft of NSCV C7A:

  • Small craft – Inflatable life-rafts
    – Part 1: Type I and type 2 (ISO 9650-1:2022)
  • Personal flotation devices
    – Part 3: Lifejackets, performance level 150 – Safety requirements (ISO 12402-3:2020)
  • Lifejackets
    – Part 1: General requirements (Australian Standard AS4758.1:2022)
  • Global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS)
    – Part 1: Cospas-Sarsat EPIRB operating on 406 MHz – Operational and performance requirements, methods of testing and required test results (IEC 61097-2 (Ed.4.0) MOD) (AS/NZS 4280.1:2022)

AMSA has also incorporated some recommendations to improve safety at sea from coronial inquiries into vessel fatalities including:

  • ‘Ease of access’ placement of an emergency grab bag of necessary basic equipment to assist crew to exit a capsized vessel and locate the grab bag in the sleeping cabin and near the helm.
  • Revised guidance on the use of personal locator beacons (PLBs) in high-risk operations and their registration with AMSA.

Key proposed changes:

You can find the full details here.

1. Life raft Standards

  • Alternative options for life-raft type on vessels less than 15m (operating in open waters).
  • Option of no life-raft requirement for certain vessels less than 7.5m (operating in open waters) if they meet additional conditions.
  • Clarification of when existing vessels that are not currently required to carry life-rafts must carry life-rafts and the timeframe to comply.
  • Description of correct life-raft securing methods.

2. Lifejacket Carriage Standards

  • Carriage of infant-size lifejackets aligned with Australian and international standards (ISO, SOLAS, AS).
  • Greater choice of lifejacket type (ISO or AS of 275N) for vessels operating in B waters.
  • Carriage of spare gas cylinders and salt tablets for inflatable lifejackets to meet Tables 2, 3 or 4 in C7A.
  • Carriage of additional lifejackets for redundancy when all lifejackets carried to meet tables 2, 3 or 4 in C7A are of the inflatable type.
  • End of grandfathering arrangements for kind of lifejackets vessels must carry.
    – Existing vessels still carrying lifejackets that do not meet the NSCV standard will have 2 years from the start of the new NSCV C7A to change over to ‘coastal’ lifejackets.
  • To assist operators in remote areas carrying inflatable lifejackets to meet NSCV C7A, increased flexibility for location of annual servicing of inflatable lifejackets.

Note: Users of Exemption 39 (marine safety) – Lifejacket lights will need to comply with passenger lifejacket requirements once the exemption expires in 2025.

3. First Aid

  • Updated first aid and medical scales to align with current Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requirements, including for codeine, which now requires a prescription.
  • Clarification that B-waters vessels must seek advice from medical practitioners or pharmacists to determine when they need to carry additional first aid / medical supplies.

4. Other Proposed Changes

  • Updates to reflect recent advances in safety equipment technology, meet international conventions and codes, and lessons learnt through industry experience
  • Revised guidance on the use of personal locator beacons (PLBs) in high-risk operations and their registration with AMSA
  • Consolidation into NSCV C7A of requirements from across multiple referenced documents into C7A (AMSA General Equivalent Solutions, Marine Order 25, SOLAS, IMO resolutions, and AMSA Exemptions)
  • Updated standard for distress flares to comply with the SOLAS / LSA Code or AS2092:2004
  • Clarified definitions and improved readability.

A full draft NSCV C7A is available here.