Vessels are defined as a workplace under the Work Health and Safety Act.

The laws impose certain obligations on the operation of domestic commercial vessel which are in addition to the obligations imposed by the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has developed guidance material to explain the various WHS obligations of domestic commercial vessel operators.

A key purpose of the WHS laws is to secure a safe place of work. These laws provide a framework that requires duty holders to identify and eliminate or minimise risks so far as is reasonably practical in their workplaces.

Work health and safety laws apply to:

  • employers
  • employees
  • contractors
  • other people at or near the workplace such as volunteers and visitors.

Some work activities are specifically regulated by WHS laws and codes of practice, including:

  • worker representation and consultation
  • risk and workplace management
  • hazardous work tasks:
    • noise, manual tasks, confined space entry, falls from height, scaffolding
  • high risk work licensing:
    • lifting, forklift, scaffolding, asbestos, energised electrical work, pressure vessels (boilers)
  • diving
  • demolition work
  • electrical
  • plant and structures
  • construction work (including dredging)
  • hazardous chemicals, dangerous goods
  • asbestos
  • major hazard facilities
  • mines
  • incident / injury / near miss reporting (in addition to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's incident reporting requirements).

Further information

COVID-19 - Requirements for commercial vessels and crew - Safe Work Australia

Domestic commercial vessels - Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Occupational health and safety inspectorate - Australian Maritime Safety Authority