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Workplace Health and Safety Laws on Commercial Fishing Vessels


The Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA) has recently updated its guidance on Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) in the fishing industry to assist commercial vessel owners and operators to better understand the obligations applying in their state or territory.

Vessels are defined as a ‘workplace’ under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA). For that reason, the WHS laws apply to domestic commercial vessels (DCV) and impose certain obligations on their operation. Those obligations are in addition to the obligations imposed by the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (Cth), which is administered by AMSA.


This means that WRL fishing vessels come under two sets of safety regulation:

  • Marine safety – Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 (Cth); AND
  • Workplace safety – Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA).

Meeting AMSA’s requirements (for example having your commercial vessel in survey), does not automatically mean that the operation of a DCV is compliant with WHS laws, and vice versa.

Understanding the differences between Marine Safety/Maritime Surveys and WHS legislative requirements is vital. Although surveys can be considered one level of safety defence, on their own they do not provide an assurance of overall operational safety. They also do not overlap with WHS laws that mandate broader workplace safety requirements.

WRL encourage our Members and anyone working in the industry, to make sure you are familiar with your responsibilities under the WHS laws that apply in WA as well as meeting the national marine safety requirements under AMSA.

Visit the AMSA website for more information or click here to view/download the printable brochure.


WorkSafe is the Western Australian Government agency responsible for the administration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. It is a division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. Visit the WorkSafe WA website to find out more about complying with the WHS law in WA.


WRL also recommends reading this article on our website where we have recently provided you with an update on the Industry Response to Proposed Changes to Work Health and Safety Bill 2019.


Posted in General, Industry News