AMSA strengthens passenger vessel safety rules

Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Credit: Graeme Bartlett

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has clarified and strengthened requirements for the monitoring and counting of passengers and managing missing passenger situations by operators of vessels that carry passengers.

The changes, made through Marine order 504 (Certificates of operation and operation requirements – national law) Amendment 2020, come in response to recent fatal and serious incidents involving missing passengers.

From 31 May 2020, any domestic commercial vessel that carries passengers must meet new requirements for passenger safety. The new regulations require passenger vessel operators to include a procedure in their safety management system that allows the master to be able to identify how many passengers are on board at any time. Additionally, an emergency procedure must be included in a vessel’s safety management system that can deal with a missing passenger.

For some operators, the new rules will require them to ensure that their procedures include a count of all passengers on board the vessel where one or more passengers embark on, or disembark from, the vessel. This includes when a vessel departs a landing point or a site where passengers may have left the vessel to undertake a water activity.

Under the reinforced safety rules, vessel operators are now also required to keep a record of the results of any passenger counts in the vessel’s logbook. 

AMSA has said that it will be holding a series of information sessions during the transition period to explain the new requirements and provide advice on how to meet and be compliant with the new requirements.