A common mistake we often see when reviewing or auditing SMS manual is the grouping of procedures, in particular emergency procedures.

The most common one we see is the grouping together of collision and grounding which sometimes often includes flooding! Let’s look at them individually.


Collisions are when a vessel comes into contact with:

  • Another vessel
  • Navigational aids including beacons, poles and markers
  • A wharf, pontoon or other structure
  • An oyster lease or other aquaculture facility
  • A marine creature such a whale, etc.

A collision can best be described as hitting or colliding with a solid object such as another vessel, navigational aid, infrastructure or a marine creature!

Collisions, in the most part are avoidable by ensuring a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor!

Underway means when not secured to a marina or pole berth, mooring or at anchor. You are underway even if you not secured to any of the items above and do not have your motor running!


A grounding can be described as a vessel coming into contact with:

  • the mainland
  • an island
  • coral reef
  • sand or mud bank.

A grounding can be described as running into a land mass, reef or sand or mud bank!

Groundings as with collisions are avoidable when a proper lookout is maintained in conjunction with good navigational practice.

Good navigational practice means either local knowledge or consulting the chart for the area where you are operating.

By consulting the chart, you will be able to identify all areas where potential grounding may occur and avoid the embarrassment of being left high and dry.

So now I hope you can differentiate between a collision and a grounding and realise that there a two separate procedures required.

The other interesting thing is we often see flooding grouped with collision and grounding. While flooding can occur in either of these  incidents it is again a separate procedure and should not be grouped together with other procedures.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend you check your SMS to ensure that collision and grounding (and flooding) are not grouped together in one procedure. If they are you need to separate them and develop individual collision and grounding procedures.


When developing a grounding procedure, we recommend you take into account the seabed structures in your areas of operations and reference how you re-float your vessel.

Ensure you are familiar with the areas you operate in including local sea life, navigational aids, infrastructure, land masses, reefs and shallow water areas.

Remember that hazards are NOT risks!

They are different things which many people confuse as the same.

Systematic approach to the management of hazards and associated risks.

The aim of the process is to minimise the likelihood of a risk to an acceptable level.

The risk management process includes:

  • Identification of the hazard (see last week’s newsletter)
  • Identification of the associated risk or risks

Assessment of the risk

  • the likelihood
  • the consequence

Control of the risk

Using the hierarchy of control measures in order of preference

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Isolation
  • Engineering controls
  • Administrative control (such as SOP’s or training)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Risk Identification

A couple of common risks:

  1. Hazard: Frayed wires on electrical items
    Risk: Operator may receive electrical shocks or be electrocuted
  2. Hazard: Unguarded drums on a winch
    Risk: A persons may have a body part drawn in and crushed

Risk assessment

First step is to evaluate the likelihood of an injury occurring.

The second step is to the probable consequences.

The two key factors for risk assessment are:

  1. The likely severity or impact of any injury/illness resulting from the hazard; and
  2. The probability or likelihood that the injury/illness will actually occur

A simple risk matrix that is commonly used which cross references likelihood and impact, enables risks to be assessed against these two factors and identified as one of the following:

  • a critical risk
  • a high risk
  • a moderate risk
  • a low risk
  • a very low risk

Please note that the risk assessments undertaken by Shorlink are more complex than the matrix above.

We incorporate an “exposure” level as well. This adds another layer in the risk assessment process and makes it more real.

Risk control

Risk that are assessed and identified as Critical or High risks, require urgent action which may include:

  • an instruction to cease work immediately
  • isolation of the hazard until permanent measures can be put in place

Risk Control Hierarchy

Elimination of the hazard is 100% effective but not always achievable

Substitution of the hazard: e.g., replacing solvent based printing inks with water based ones.

Isolation of hazard: e.g., isolating a piece of machinery where only trained workers have access.

Engineering controls: e.g., installation of guards on machinery.

Administrative controls: includes training and education

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): includes safety glasses/goggles, hearing protection, etc.

Once you have your risk assessments in place remember to review them every three years or if new risks are identified, changes are made to procedures or new operations are started.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendation is that if you, like many businesses, find there are a lot of improvements that you could make – both big and small, don’t try to do everything at once. Make a plan of action to deal with the most important things first.

Secondly, be sure to document your plan of action and set realistic dates based on the level of severity.


A good tip for a plan of action includes a mixture of different things including but not limited to:

  • priority and quick action to hazards identified as high or critical risks
  • a few easy improvements that can be undertaken quickly as a temporary solution until more reliable controls are in place
  • long term solutions to those risk with the worst potential consequences or cause accidents or illness.

Always remember, if you need help with hazard identification or undertaking risk assessment simply contact or office as we are here to help YOU stay safe!

While identifying hazards sounds easy it’s a bit more complicated than that!

Many people consider hazards and risks as the same thing but in fact they are two very different items.

A hazard is a source or a situation with the potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill-health, damage to property or the environment or a combination of these.

A risk is the chance something happening that will have a negative effect. The level of risk reflects the likelihood of the unwanted event and the potential consequences of the unwanted event.

A good example is when we were called in to go over a list of hazards on a 30 meter hi-speed cat developed by a crew member. We identified over 20 hazards that were not identified by the crew member who had been working onboard for a number of years.

Three of the hazards identified had the potential to be critical, resulting in serious injury! Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation. Often people don’t see a particular hazard or fail to identify the risks associated with it.

The other factor that too many people miss is that a hazard may have multiple risks associated with it. For example, take a low railing on a vessel which would be identified as a hazard with the potential risk of a person falling overboard.

Falling overboard is a high level risk which has a number of other risks associated with it including but not limited to:

  • Injury due to contact with the vessel or other items
  • Bites or stings from marine creatures
  • Drowning
  • And many other risks

So, as you can see a single hazard can have multiple risks associated with it.

Another example is operating a forklift which is another hi-risk hazard with multiple risks attached to it. Risks include but are not limited to:

  • Improper operation and use
  • Overloading
  • Pedestrians
  • Floor conditions
  • Overhead obstructions
  • Attachments
  • And many other risks

To identify hazards, you need to take a long slow walk around your vessel or facility and identify areas and/or items that potentially present hazards.

You need to take into account items that include but are not limited to:

  • Entry/access points
  • Steps
  • Ladders
  • Machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Fuelling points
  • Shelving
  • Railing heights
  • Head heights
  • Confined spaces
  • Working heights
  • And so many other potential hazards specific to your vessel and/or workplace

The above is a very short list of hazards just to give you an idea of what to look for. Many hazards can have multiple hazards attached and here is an example.

On the vessel we mentioned earlier one hazard identified (which was not identified by the crew member) was a mounting for a navigation light. The mounting was located around 1.75 meters above the deck which is around or below head height for many people.

While that’s bad enough there was a bolt attaching the light protruding through the base by around 10cm. As this was located in a passenger area it presented a high level hazard which could result in a serious head injury!

While the crew member missed the low mounting bracket they also missed the very real potential for serious head injuries due to the protruding bolt!

When you’ve identified those items where a hazard exists you then need to look at each one to identify the risks associated with that hazard.

This article was written to give you a broad outline of identifying hazards and what to look for to make the process of hazard identification clearer.

So, while identifying the hazard is the first step breaking down the associated risks is a major component in risk assessment, and we’ll address that next week.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you haven’t gone through the process of undertaking a hazard identification of your vessel or worksite then we strongly recommend you do so now.

Hazard identification and risk assessments are a major part in identifying potential dangers on your vessel or in your workplace AND are a legal requirements under AMSA and WorkSafe.

As stated our number one recommendation is to undertake a hazard identification now if you haven’t done one as yet.


If you’ve undertaken a hazard identification more than 12 months ago or tip is to revise it annually. For commercial vessels, the SMS is required to undergo an Annual Review every year.

For businesses with an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) in place (which all businesses are required to have) they are required to be audited annually.

Australia’s COVID situation is in a constant state of change. Owing to the size of the continent, the distance between cities and the fragmented (and often contradictory) nature of Federal / State government, an outbreak of COVID can be raging in one part of the country and completely absent everywhere else.

From this prospective, it can be quite difficult to accurately report the ‘current’ restrictions and/or directives that must be adhered to for all owners, businesses and crew!

Therefore, whilst it appears we are coming out of the pandemic, the changes appear fewer, and restrictions appear lighter.

There are specific rules in place for Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV) based on your operations. Please note that states and territories may have different requirements. We recommend checking with your state or territory for their specific requirements.

Charter operators and tourism experiences

This includes Hire & Drive/ bare boat operators.

There are now NO vaccination or check in requirements and no COVID-19 capacity or density limits apply.

Commercial Fishing

If at sea and a crew member shows any symptoms of COVID-19 immediately take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and follow the guidelines below.

  1. If a NEGATIVE test result no action necessary but continue to monitor symptoms and take a second RAT test 2 or 3 days after the first test.
  2. If a POSITIVE test result then the vessel becomes a quarantine zone for 7 full days from the date of the test. This means that any person who tests positive OR displays COVID-19 symptoms (see Close Contacts below) is not permitted to leave the vessel during that period other than for situations like:
  • Going to hospital for urgent medical care
  • In an emergency such as fire, flooding, etc.

If a crew member is leaving the vessel for these very limited reasons they must wear a mask.

  1. Advise all other persons onboard that you have tested positive, and the vessel is quarantine zone for the next 7 days.
  2. Advise family and friends that you have COVID-19
  3. Continually monitor your health and if unsure call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080
  4. Seek medical advice if you:
  • are not improving after 2 or 3 days, or are getting sicker
  • have a chronic health condition
  • are pregnant
  1. Call 000 immediately if you are or becoming seriously ill
  2. The quarantine period ends after the 7 full days unless you have a fever, sore throat, runny nose or a cough that is getting worse on day 7
  3. If you do have a fever, sore throat, runny nose or a cough that is getting worse the vessel will need to remain a quarantine zone until the symptoms clear
  4. You do not need another RAT to end the quarantine period. This is because most people who get COVID-19 will continue to test positive for some time after they have recovered even though they no longer have COVID-19 and are no longer infectious.
  5. Another crew member tests POSITIVE for COVID-19 then you need to start a new 7 full days quarantine period and follow 1 – 10 above.
  6. The vessel remains a quarantine zone for 7 full days from the date the crew member had the test.

Most states and territories require you to report a positive RAT result, check your governments requirements for reporting positive RAT results.

NOTE: This guide is based on government information today and as states and territories continually change requirements we recommend you check your state or territory requirements regularly.

Close contacts

All persons onboard should be considered close contacts if any person onboard has tested positive to COVID-19 from the date of a positive result. Close contacts with COVID-19 symptoms should take a RAT immediately and must stay onboard until the symptoms resolve.

Anyone onboard who DOES NOT have symptoms of COVID-19 should monitor symptoms for 7 days  from the last time anyone onboard tested positive for COVID-19. If symptom free then you do not have to quarantine and can leave the vessel.

While anyone is a close contact they must:

  • Wear a mask at all times when outside
  • Not visit vulnerable settings unless in exceptional or compassionate circumstances
  • Test for COVID-19 if symptoms develop.

Managing symptoms

Most people will be able to manage their symptoms onboard. It is import to:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration
  • Take pain medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen if uncomfortable
  • Monitor symptoms daily to track if they are getting worse. You can use Queensland’s My COVID-19 symptoms diary  by clicking on the link below.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

First and foremost, ensure you have enough RAT kits onboard based on the number of crew carried and the length of your normal voyages.

Secondly ensure you have a procedure onboard for how to deal with crew members who test positive for COVID-19 and all crew know and understand their responsibilities in relation to dealing with COVID-19.


If you’re unsure about what’s required or how to incorporate a COVID-19 procedure into your SMS then give us a call and we’ll help you develop a procedure and incorporate it into your SMS.

While most of us have seen Safety Data Sheets (SDS), previously known as a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) how many actually know and understand them?

Unfortunately, a Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) which includes vessel owners simply have them because they have too!

SDS are a valuable tool in ensuring workers (including crew members) health and safety by providing critical information about hazardous substances. A SDS includes information on:

  • The chemical’s identity and ingredients
  • Health and physical hazards
  • Safe handling and storage procedures
  • Emergency procedures
  • Disposal considerations

A SDS is a valuable tool for assessing and managing the risks associated with the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces.’

WHS Regulation section 330 specifies that a manufacturer or importer to prepare and provide safety data sheets.

A chemical that is not hazardous does not require a SDS however if ones available it’s a good idea to have it on hand for general safety reasons.

Note that all SDS are to be prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals.

A SDS must:

  • be in English
  • contain units of measurement expressed in Australian legal units of measurements
  • state the date it was last reviewed or if it has not been reviewed the date it was prepared
  • state the name , Australian address and business telephone number of the manufacturer or importer
  • state an Australian business telephone number from which information about the chemical can be obtained in an emergency

A SDS for a hazardous chemical must state the following information about the chemical:

  • Section 1 – Identification: Product identifier and chemical entity
  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties
  • Section 10 – Stability and reactivity
  • Section 11 – Toxicological information
  • Section 12 – Ecological information
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 14 – Transport information
  • Section 15 – Regulatory information
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

As you can see there is a lot of information in a SDS, information that is vital to the business/vessel owner/operator, end user and emergency services in the event of an incident.

While all the above sections are important the key sections relevant to the user are:

  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

There is a twist to the requirement for SDS that if you purchase a household use product from a general retailer in domestic use sizes then a SDS is not required. Even though it’s not required it’s still a good idea to have one if you purchase any quantities of household use products.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you comply with three import things:

  1. You have SDS for all chemical and/or hazards materials you store or use;
  2. All SDS are current; and
  3. Workers, including crew members who use or handle the product have easy access to all SDS.


While having SDS stored on electronic devices such as computers, tablets, etc. saves a lot of paper in the event that power is lost due to a fire or other reason you cannot access your SDS. Our best tip is to ensure you have hard copies available.

While most of us have chemicals either onboard or ashore do we handle and store them correctly?

Failure to handle and store chemicals of any sort can lead to injuries, health problems and damage to the vessel, workplace and the environment.

Every year in Australia over 2,000 workers die as a result of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. Only 30 – 40 of these are due to poisoning, many of the other deaths result from long latency, e.g., cancer.

Vessel and workplace damage can be repaired but environmental damage comes with penalties that can cause major financial disruption and even bankruptcy to owners and operators.

To avoid that you need to ensure you comply with two things, those being:

  1. The Code of Practice for Managing the risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Note this means onboard vessels as well.
  2. The handling and storing details in the products Safety Data Sheet (SDS). You do have SDS’s for all your chemicals onboard or onsite, not just the hazardous ones don’t you?

This newsletter provides a brief outline of your requirements for the handling and storing of chemicals. If you need further information please feel free to contact our office.

Firstly, SDS are required for all chemicals stored onboard or onsite and are required to be stored in a location that is accessible to all people onboard or in the workplace. More on SDS next week.

A Hazardous Chemicals Register which contains a list of all hazardous chemicals onboard or at your workplace. This register is a requirement under WHS Regulations and should be accompanied by the current SDS for each of those chemicals.

The handling of chemicals can cause serious injury and/or illness and death in some cases. Ensuring you comply with the handling instructions and PPE requirements listed in the SDS is critical to your health and safety.

Storage of hazardous chemicals including flammable and combustible liquids must be in an approved storage containers and a space designed and constructed in accordance with AS1940.

Special care must be taken when storing hazardous chemicals due to cross contamination with incompatible materials which can result in explosion, fire, toxic fumes/gases or other potentially harmful situations.

When handling hazardous chemicals or material ensure you follow the handling precautions contained in the products SDS at all times.

The storage of non-hazardous chemicals must be in accordance with the storage instructions contained in the products SDS.

As with all chemicals always refer to and follow the handling instructions contained in the products SDS.

PPE is a major issue as many people either don’t know what PPE to use or simply fail to use it for whatever reason. Business and vessel owners and operators are responsible for ensuring the appropriate PPE is readily available to all workers and crew members.

What are hazardous substances?

Hazardous substances are substances that have the potential to harm people’s health in the medium or long term. They can be solids, liquids or gases, and when used in the workplace, they are often in the form of fumes, dusts, mists and vapours.

Examples of hazardous substances include:

  • acute toxins such as cyanide,
  • substances harmful after repeated or prolonged exposure such as mercury and silica,
  • corrosives such as sulphuric acid and caustic soda,
  • irritants such as ammonia,
  • sensitising agents such as isocyanates and
  • carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as benzene and vinyl chloride.

 How can exposure affect your health?

Hazardous substances can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin and can cause both immediate and long-term health problems. Health effects depend on the type of hazardous substance and the level of exposure. Some of the potential health effects can include:

  • irritation
  • sensitisation
  • cancer
  • poisoning
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • chest pains
  • skin rashes, such as dermatitis
  • chemical burns
  • birth defects
  • disorders of the lung, kidney or liver
  • nervous system disorders
  • birth defects

Injuries and symptoms are also dependant on a variety of variables including length, quality and frequency of exposure, history and method of exposure, training received, sensitivity to the substance, general health and height and weight.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend that as a vessel or business owner or operator you should assess the health risk associated in working with hazardous substances. To do this we recommend you should know:

  • what the substance is.
  • whether the substance is hazardous or not.
  • how the substance is used (and misused) in the work process.
  • if there is a chance of a person being exposed to the hazardous substances, how much they are exposed to, for how long and how often they are exposed.
  • how to use this knowledge to assess the risk to a person’s health.


The best tip we can give is to ensure you have SDS for all chemicals stored onboard your vessel or in your workplace and they are current. Having them is one thing but ensure they are easily accessible to all relevant workers, and they know where they are.

There is a twist to this requirement that if you purchase a household use product from a general retailer in domestic use sizes then a SDS is not required. Even though it’s not required it’s still a good idea to have one if you purchase any quantities household use product.

So, what is a Safety Data Sheet. These provide detailed information about chemicals including:

  • the identity of the chemical product and its ingredients;
  • the hazards of the chemical including health, physical and environmental hazards;
  • physical properties of the chemical, like boiling point, flash point and incompatibilities with other products;
  • workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants;
  • safe handling and storage procedures
  • what to do in the event of an emergency or spill;
  • first aid information; and
  • transport information

Anyone whose been at sea knows that everyday is perfect, right. The reality is that we all have to face adverse or bad weather conditions at times no matter if you operate in open waters, bays or rivers.

It’s not just those at sea that have to deal with adverse weather, shore-based businesses or facilities have to deal with it in many cases.

Adverse weather is the result of “high or strong gusting winds” which are often associated with very low-pressure systems, thunderstorms, squalls, willy-willies, mini cyclones and cyclones.

At sea all of the above affect the ocean which in turn impacts on the vessel, all persons onboard and their operations.



Working on deck in these conditions is dangerous and requires crew to take extra care during these times. The more severe the conditions, the more care you need to exercise.

Working on commercial fishing vessels you must be on high alert when hauling trawl nets, retrieving loneliness or traps and when handlining all fishing gear. You need to remain vigilant of your surroundings and those on deck with you. It’s called “situational awareness.”

On vessels that carry passengers such as recreational fishing operators, dive charters, ferries and vehicle transport barges your primary concern is about passenger safety. This in itself can be challenging due to seasickness and passenger movement around the vessel.

Dumb barges offer a whole range of other challenges as they are either on anchor or being towed which brings tugs into the picture and adds a range of other potential dangers.

Shore based businesses have to deal with a whole range of issues from vessels breaking away or sinking, flooding of the premises and a range of other potential issues.

While we all try to avoid cyclones, the fact is that there are times when you simply can’t, which places you, the vessel and all those onboard in a highly dangerous situation.

It’s just the same for shore based business and although you can evacuate the facility, there is usually damage and losses to deal with.


If you find yourself in this situation – it’s critical that you know what to do, are prepared and have appropriate procedures in place. And it’s not just at sea where we need to worry, what about shore-based operations. Storm surge is a major problem for all.

No matter what level of adverse or bad weather you find yourself in, you need to be prepared and well equipped to deal with it not only for your safety but for all those onboard and the vessel or in the workplace.

WorkSafe issued a safety warning which urged employers (this also applies to Master) to ensure their worksites (this also includes vessels) are secured when potentially damaging winds are approaching.

Loose objects need to be removed from exposed areas or suitably secured to prevent them becoming projectiles. Here’s a quick check list.

  • Monitor weather conditions continuously
  • Check forecasts regularly
  • Ensure loose items are secured appropriately
  • Cease crane operations when the wind speed exceeds the manufacturer’s specified limit
  • Do not operate hoisting equipment (personnel or equipment) in high or gusty winds, refer to manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Ensure tools and other equipment are stowed appropriately
  • Wear eye protection to prevent foreign particles blowing into the eyes
  • Wear hard hats where falling objects are a hazard and ensure the chin strap is worn

Shorlink’s Recommendation

It’s critical that you have an appropriate procedure for adverse weather in your Safety Management System based on your operations. If you work in areas that are subject to cyclones a procedure for cyclones should also be in place.

Without these procedures in place for adverse weather conditions and cyclones if necessary you put yourself and the lives of your crew and/or workers at risk.


Make sure everything is secured appropriately giving consideration to your operations and the prevailing and forecast weather.

The one area that we stress in in the vessel’s galley because there’s usually a lot of “unsecured” items which can easily turn into projectiles and cause serious injury.

The other area for passenger vessel is the cafeteria if there’s one due to the reasons above but with added for potential injuries to passengers!

For shore based businesses, look around your facility, firstly outside for items that have the potential to become airborne or present other dangers and secure them. Then check inside for potential dangers such as if a window shatters or breaks.

Need help than contact our office on 07 4242 1412 or email sms@shorlink.com


Safe navigation sounds simple, but the reality is it all comes back to the watchkeeper, the person in the helm seat.

While it sounds cool to be in charge of the vessel for a while, the very real fact is that you have the safety of the vessel and lives of all the people onboard in your hands while doing a watch!

Think about that for a minute, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters all want to get back home safely but for them to do that YOU have to do your job.

I’ve personally walked into the wheelhouse of a trawler that was trawling and found nobody there! The vessel was running on auto pilot and while alarms were set, the bottom line is there was no-one on watch.

That made me sick to the stomach to think that my life and the lives of all the other crew members was in the hands of a couple of alarms that no one was there to monitor.

If you’re on watch you must take it seriously and do your job to protect the vessel and all those onboard.

It’s not a time to lay back and rest, take a snooze or watch a video. Your job is to protect the vessel and all those onboard while you’re on watch.

Any person on watch must know and understand the navigational equipment, the different alarms and what they mean, the radios and when to call the Master.

For commercial vessels they should have a watchkeeping procedure in the vessels SMS, if not you better get on now.

This procedure needs to have a handover step and details of tasks when underway or at anchor. I’ve been to far too many incidents, some with minor injures and other where a death has occurred, or a vessel has been damaged or lost.

Here’s a DO NOT’S to remember when on watch…. Don’t:

  • just sit in the helm seat for your watch period
  • watch TV or a video
  • play on your phone or tablet
  • rely on you radar

More important are the DO’s which are… Do:

  • get up and check out the sides and astern regularly
  • stay on the planned course
  • maintain safe navigation
  • monitor machinery alarms
  • Monitor high water alarms (if fitted)
  • Remain aware of other conditions that may affect the vessel or its safety

The above dot points are based on being underway but what about when you’re at anchor?

There’s a few critical steps that you need to follow, these are:

  • Record the vessels position (if not already noted) in the vessels Log Book
  • Ensure the vessel is not dragging the anchor or shifting
  • Maintain a lookout at all times

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one is to ensure you have an appropriate hand over process in place, don’t just say “stay on this course and call me in 4 hours”.

Next is to have a series of steps for the watchkeeper to follow when underway and also when at anchor.


Do not, I repeat do not let anyone stand watch without doing to two following things:

  1. Ensuring they have been fully inducted into all the navigation equipment, alarms other vital points relevant to your vessel;
  2. Never allow a new watchkeeper, who has been properly inducted, to stand a watch alone. Ensure an experienced watchkeeper is with them until they are deemed competent to stand watch alone.

Remember, if you’re on watch and start to feel tired or are falling asleep, wake someone immediately because it is not only your life –

it’s the life of all those onboard, in your hands!

Safe navigation sounds simple doesn’t it but why are there more and more incidents happening due to poor navigation?

Too many Master’s simply become complacent or don’t take it seriously enough which results in accidents causing injuries or death or damage to infrastructure.

Navigating safely is something we all should do every time we or our crew operate our vessels!

Unfortunately, it’s not always the case and that can be for a number of reasons, one of which there is no set procedure for safe operation.

While on commercial vessels Masters have been trained in the COLREGS, there are a few that seem to disregard their responsibility in navigating safely.

On recreational vessels owners or Masters do not go through the same level of training as commercial Masters which has been a common cause of marine incidents over the years.

In order to protect you as a vessel owner and/or operator developing a procedure for navigating your vessel safely provides you with a level of protection should your Master decide not to follow the procedure. This applies to both commercial and recreational vessels!

So…let’s look at what’s required in your procedure to provide that level of protection…

  • Ensure all relevant crew are trained and are competent in the use of the vessel’s navigation equipment such as radar, compass, GPS and other devices
  • Inspect, maintain or have serviced all of the vessel’s navigation aids
  • Update charts, information, etc… relevant to your operations
  • Plan voyages
  • Sounding appropriate signals such as going astern
  • Monitoring of the vessels position by all available means
  • Following procedures for operating in restricted visibility
  • Communicating with other vessels
  • Monitoring auto pilot

These are the basic steps required to ensure your procedure for navigating safely covers the requirements.

You need to include any specific steps that may be relevant to your vessel and its operations to ensure you meet those requirements.

When developing your procedure, you need to take into account the size and type of your vessel, vessel operations and where you operate. While the principals are the same navigating in the open ocean has different requirements to operating in rivers and bays.

This is a simple but vital procedure to incorporate in your SMS but so many people either don’t write it appropriately or miss it altogether.

Also, there is a significant difference in navigating safely on a clear sunny day to navigating at night or in restricted visibility. Much greater care needs to be taken when navigating at night or in restricted visibility due to the increased dangers involved.

All too often we see vessels, both commercial and recreational being operated at night or in periods of restricted visibility as though it was a clear sunny day!

Vessel speed, lack of attention or being distracted are the cause of accidents which have resulted in injuries through to loss of life and/or damage to infrastructure or the environment.

Many if not all of these incidents could have been avoided by practicing safe navigation!

Navigating safely also has a direct linkage to watchkeeping which we’ll go into next week.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to either review your Navigating Safely procedure or if you don’t have one get it in place today!

While we all like to think our crew will navigate our vessel safely unfortunately it’s not always the case that’s why having a Navigating Safely procedure in place is critical.


Use the dot point items in this newsletter to get you underway with updating your procedure or developing one if you don’t already have it in place.

If you have any problems developing your Navigating Safely procedure or feel you have special circumstances don’t hesitate to contact our office for assistance as we’re here to help you!

Stay safe by navigating safely at all times!

Here at Shorlink, we have reopened after our Christmas Break and rearing to face 2022 with a renewed vigour for our industry, especially in safety and training.

Hopefully, your business’ have flourished over a season that was much needed given the past 2 years and what we have all faced. Now is not the time to reflect, it’s time to move forward and to do that, we want to make sure that both yourself, your crew and your business have everything in place to be successful and safe.

This is a long newsletter, however, we feel it is important!


Here is a checklist that you should complete to start the year!


  1. Risk Assessment!
    Is your Risk Assessment updated, or have you ever done one?

AMSA advises that your operations and just as important, your SMS should be based on a risk assessment of your operations. If you have not completed one or left it a while – Call Shorlink!

  1. Safety Management System (SMS)
    Is your SMS up to date AND provides the legal protection that you need?

We hear so often…. I have a SMS, I’ve done mine online, I’ll just update the dates on my existing one, or worse, I’ll let you know if I need one.

This is AMSA’s directive: All domestic commercial vessels must have a safety management system (SMS). This system will demonstrate and document how your vessel meets the mandatory general safety duties.

An SMS is an important aspect of your vessel as it details all the important policies, practices, and procedures that are to be followed in order to ensure the safe functioning at sea. The SMS needs to be reviewed annually and recorded appropriately of Section 12 of your SMS.

We do a hand over of our SMS’s, we don’t just deliver and leave. We do this with the owners and/or crew to ensure that every person handling the SMS knows it, understands it, and follows it. A great question to ask your crew….. what happens if the Skipper has a heart attack, what do you do? If the question is answered different ways or worse still, they are unsure, please contact us to do a handover with them.

You need one!
It’s needs to be updated, especially if you have made any changes to your vessel!
Please ensure your SMS covers you legally if the worse was to happen.

If you’re reading this, questioning whether your SMS is OK, it’s not. You should have 100% confidence in it, as much as your vessel being safe, so give us a call to discuss for peace of mind.

  1. Training!
    Do I/We really need it? Yes!

We believe that AMSA will be ramping up their inspections in the near future to ensure every vessel and person at sea is following the SMS and handling their vessel safely.

Here at Shorlink, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our training services. Last year, we added to our staff, with Lindsay Hutton. Lindsay has over 20 years hands on experience in the marine industry and his knowledge and training style is incredible and invaluable to his participants. Having both Wayne and Lindsay at the helm of our training division, we believe we offer the very best of the best training to our clients.

Training gives peace of mind to the owners and/or skippers that they have provided the necessary training to ensure their vessel and in turn their business is operating as it should in every facet.

Our training services include:

 Onboard Safety Training – onboard your vessel

 Practical Vessel Handling – onboard your vessel

 Practical Flares & Fire Extinguisher Training – our participants let off actual flares

We also offer individual training courses according to our client’s needs.

Training makes the difference between a successful outcome and a disaster!

Our aim and focus are to not only to ensure your crew are able to handle emergencies but handle them efficiently and effectively. Click Here for more information on our training services.

  1. Log Books!
    Are they completed correctly? Do you have one for all your needs?

If you’ve spoken to Wayne, our Principal Consultant at any length, then you understand the importance of Log Books.

On an AMSA Inspection Report, they have a very large section with covers ‘Documentation.’  AMSA take this extremely seriously and if you don’t have a log book when it is required OR IT IS COMPLETED INCORRECTLY OR NOT AT ALL, then AMSA can and will cease your operations immediately.

All log books should be treated with as much importance as fuel. These books are an integral part of the vessel and its operations.

After seeing log books that were not designed correctly, over complicated, hard to follow/use or a combination of all, Shorlink have designed and released Log Books both our company and clients are successfully using for years! In fact, we’ve been told they are the best in the industry, and we agree!

These log books have been developed for easy, simply use that meets the requirements for your vessel.

In Australia, both owners and AMSA require specific information to be recorded in your vessels log book plus there are other vital details, especially if your involved in a marine incident.

Our log books provide ALL the details that MUST be recorded and other information to ensure you are covered! We even include a sample page so as you have a full understanding of how to fill out your log books correctly!

We also develop Log Books to suit owner’s specific requirements.

Check out our full range of Log Books, by Clicking Here with free postage!

  1. Maintenance!
    Is your vessel/s to code and have you noted the changes in your SMS.

We’ve seen many owners and/or business’ using the down time over the last two years to upgrade and update their vessels. This is great use of time. It’s never too late.

Maintenance is key to ensuring there are no ongoing issues in the future, especially during a busy season when no-one wants to be on the slip, instead of on the water, making money.

Now, if you have completed any maintenance, ensure to update your Log Books accordingly.

If you have made any changes to your vessel, including but not limited to new engine, gearbox etc, please contact Shorlink as your SMS will need updating immediately.

  1. Medical Stores!
    Check and stock!

We recommend that Medical Stores should be checked before any vessel departs. However, here is a reminder to check to ensure your medical supplies are all fully stocked and overstocked in some cases for products that are used often, especially if you will be out to sea for a period of time.

Also, check expiry dates of all products and replace where necessary.

Making sure your Medical Stores Log Book is designed to record the dispensing of ALL medical supplies to enable a verifiable means of tracking. Having this log book allows the Master and/or Owner to monitor usage of items and who they were dispensed to and how often.

Shorlink offers a Medical Log Book. Click Here to see!

  1. Emergency and Safety Equipment!
    Check and Replace!

Where do we start!! This is the most common equipment which is overlooked and assumed all is fine and usable – believe me, they can easily deteriorate or become out of date without realising.

Fire Extinguishers – making sure you have the right extinguisher for any emergency is key to ensuring the safety. We have actually seen where a vessel has been saved and lost on the back of the correct or incorrect extinguisher being used. Obviously, also ensuring they are within date of use, and there is no corrosion on any part of the equipment. If in doubt, replace.

Fire Blankets – when was the last time you checked? These easily become something thrown at the back of a cupboard, normally in the galley. Or if it is hung up, it never gets opened or used. How do you know it is still intact? Check all fire blankets and ensure they are accessible, and crew know how to use these efficiently.

Flares – check all flares are within usable date, especially for future and that all crew know how to correctly locate and use these in an emergency.

Lifejackets– Tracey, our Administrator has been shocked at the images that have passed our business of the condition of lifejackets on some vessels. We all understand the importance of lifejackets in an emergency, but when you are out on the water often, many crew become complacent with them.

All lifejackets should not be water logged while stored, this can cause corrosion which means they made fall apart in an emergency.

Lifejackets should be stowed in a dry location and be easily accessible in an emergency. Especially if you have large crew/passengers – you should have an accessible point that provides easy distribution. Also, all crew and passengers should know how to don them if necessary. Also, bringing attention using the lifejacket if required in an emergency.

We understand that this list is long and comprehensive. However, taking 10 minutes now to complete can assist with ensuring the safety of your crew, business and vessel.

Now, let’s focus on a great 2022 and also feel free to contact Shorlink should you need!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you have questioned any part of the checklist, please contact us immediately.

It is imperative, that your business, vessel and crew are conducting themselves safely and within guidelines at all times and we want to assist to ensure that happens.

Here at Shorlink, our priority has been and will always be Safety.

That is why we offer free assessments of your SMS, and we are happy to chat on the phone any time, obligation free to ensure our industry stays and remains buoyant, safe and flourishes!


Complete our checklist, please!

If you would like us to email you a simplified copy of the checklist for ease of completing, please send an email to admin@shorlink.com