Safety Audits – Are they worthwhile?

Table of contents

First things first, what is a safety audit?

A safety audit is having your vessel and equipment, safety appliances, firefighting appliances and equipment and operating documents inspected by a maritime professional.

Too many times when we get onboard a vessel for training, to investigate an incident or some other reason, we note things that are either out of date or about to be out of date. This can lead to a serious problem if AMSA, Water Police or other regulators board your vessel for an inspection.

Simple things that so many operators and Masters alike fail to recognise.

Here is a list to consider:

  • Lifebuoy reflective tape
  • Vessel name on lifebuoy
  • Lifejackets not labelled
  • Lifejackets lights out of date
  • Life raft painter incorrectly secured
  • Signage (fuel and air shut off’s, etc.)
  • Anchor shackles not moused
  • SMS not compliant
  • No SMS annual reviews undertaken or recorded
  • No training recorded or poorly recorded
  • Log book entries are poor or non-existent
  • Maintenance records are poorly recorded or non-existent
  • Navigation lights not working or obscured

The above is just a short list of what we often encounter and it’s enough to get you an improvement notice or worse a prohibition notice that can get your vessel tied up. Not what you want!

So, is a safety audit worth it?

The simple answer is YES!

An annual safety audit or even one every 2 years ensures everything is compliant, in service and especially for safety and firefighting appliances and equipment available if and when needed.

Imagine your vessel has a major fire, you grab a fire extinguisher, and it doesn’t work! That puts you, your crew, passengers and your vessel in serious danger.

What happens when AMSA undertakes an inspection and reflective tape on your lifebuoys is badly worn and the light is out of date and does not work. The result is the inspector will look harder at everything!

Then there’s your documentation, is it complete and up to date, have you undertaken annual reviews and recorded them correctly?

A safety audit can ensure the vessel, its appliances and equipment and documentation is current and up-to-date.

What does Shorlink provide in our safety audits?

When one our professional consultants undertakes a safety audit on your vessel it includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Detailed inspection of all safety/lifesaving appliances and equipment
  • Detailed inspection of all firefighting appliances and equipment
  • Detailed inspection of the vessels anchor winch, anchor chain/line and shackles
  • An inspection of the safety factures of your vessel and there operation including existing and potential hazards
  • Checking to ensure all the required signage is in place
  • A review of your Safety Management System (SMS) to ensure it’s compliant with current regulatory requirements, both for AMSA and Work Health and Safety
  • A review of the vessels log book
  • A review of the vessel’s maintenance documents
  • A check of all navigation lights for operation

The above is only an outline of what Shorlink goes through when undertaking a safety audit to ensure your vessel, its safety and firefighting appliances and equipment and documentation are compliant.

Our safety audits have been proven to save people time and money not to mention lives due to out of service or faulty equipment.

If you’re involved in a marine incident and your safety gear &/or firefighting equipment is out of date then you potentially face serious legal issues! Do you want that?

Shorlink can undertake a safety audit for you and can include any other factors that you may require including vessel operations and crew’s performance.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We highly recommend having a safety audit undertaken especially for fleet owners where keeping on top of safety and compliance can be an issue.

While vessel Master’s try to keep everything up to date they have so much going on that things get missed and then there’s compliancy! The same is often the case for fleet and operations managers.


Our best tip is IF you have the appropriate skills and experience, undertake an internal safety audit yourself BUT please be honest with yourself about your knowledge of current legislation and operational requirements.

If you don’t have the knowledge and skillset to undertake a detailed safety audit then contact us for advice to ensure you get the best possible service to ensure you are compliant and safe!   

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