The National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) today released for public comment a draft standard on General Safety Requirements for Vessels aimed at vessels not required to be in survey under the proposed National System of Commercial Vessel Regulation.
A parallel consultation is currently underway on the new National System of Commercial Vessel Regulation planned to come into place in 2013 (see the AMSA web site www.amsa.gov.au for details). Under the new National System, interstate differences in commercial vessel regulatory requirements would be addressed by introducing a single piece of maritime safety legislation applicable throughout Australia, based on the application of national standards.
One element of the National System proposal is that certain smaller, lower risk vessels would continue to be regulated, but would not be required to undergo commercial vessel survey. This mainly affects vessels less than 7.5m in length operating in sheltered waters and not carrying passengers. Certain vessels used for training people to achieve recreational qualifications would also be covered.
An approach based on applying different standards to lower risk commercial vessels is already in place in some States, but there have traditionally been a range of different requirements applied in lieu of compliance with the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV).
The new national standard issued today in draft form by NMSC details common national requirements for vessel design and safety equipment proposed to be applied to those lower risk commercial vessels not required to comply with the NSCV or be surveyed under the National System. It is intended to become a companion standard to the NSCV.
NMSC’s Standards Team Leader John Henry said 'In many ways the requirements proposed are similar to those contained in the national standards for recreational vessels. However, some of the options available for recreational boats have not been deemed to be adequate for a commercial vessel application and have not been included.
'The requirements in the draft standard for vessel design only apply to new vessels coming into the fleet from the start of 2013. They include a requirement for level flotation, as well as setting capacity limits and ensuring that fuel systems are safely installed.'
Mr Henry stated 'The requirements for equipment carried on board are intended to apply to both new and existing vessels and would be phased in over the period between 2013 and 2016. The requirements proposed are similar to those for recreational vessels in each State; but in establishing a common set of requirements to be applied across Australia there were always going to be a few changes from the requirements currently applying in any given State.'
In developing the draft requirements, the NMSC took account of its report on Commercial Vessel Incidents in Australia, published in 2009. That report showed that vessels under 7.5 metres in length made up about half of the commercial vessel fleet, but accounted for only 20.5 percent of incidents involving a serious injury and 12 percent involving a fatality.
Mr Henry commented, 'The report showed that smaller vessels have a much better safety record than larger vessels. However, there are still risks to life should a serious incident occur and the focus of standards for these vessels should be on measures that facilitate the rescue of the crew.'
Mr Henry added, 'Overall, the new standard will deliver a common national set of requirements for smaller low-risk commercial vessels operating on sheltered waters, aligned to actual risks.'
Have Your Say Copies of the document can be obtained by phoning 02 9247 2124 or from www.nmsc.gov.au – click on ‘Have Your Say’. The comment period closes on 19 August 2011.
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