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Responding to an incident

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

Reporting incidents and dangerous occurrences is an important part of ensuring the safety of people on ships.

Who has reporting obligations

The vessel operator is responsible for reporting:

What needs to be reported

An incident is notifiable if it occurs at or near the workplace and results from an activity conducted by or for the operator and is:

  • an accident that caused the death of, or serious personal injury to, a person
  • an accident that caused an employee to be incapacitated from performing work for five successive days or more, or
  • a dangerous occurrence.

A dangerous occurrence is an incident that could have caused:

  • the death of, or serious personal injury to, a person, or
  • the incapacity of an employee for five or more successive working days.

If you are in any doubt about whether an incident is notifiable, we recommend you report the incident anyway to ensure that you have complied with your statutory obligations.

Penalties apply if incidents are not reported.

How to report an incident

All reports must be made to the occupational health and safety inspectorate, which is the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Reporting involves a two-step process:

  1. Submit an incident alert within 4 hours of becoming aware of the incident, and
  2. Submit an incident report within 72 hours of becoming aware of the incident.

See Report a marine incident on the AMSA website for further information about the reporting process.

Duty to ensure the site is not altered

The person in command of a prescribed ship or prescribed unit must ensure the site of an accident or a dangerous occurrence is not altered or disturbed until:

  • an inspector has inspected the site
  • an inspector provides written permission that the site may be altered
  • the OHS inspectorate notifies in writing that an inspection is not required
  • 24 hours after notice was given, if the ship or unit was in Australian port when notice was given and an inspector has not visited, or
  • 24 hours after arriving at port, if the ship or unit was proceeding to an Australian port when notice was given and an inspector has not visited.

The site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the notifiable incident.

The person in command may alter or disturb the site only if there is a reasonable excuse, which includes to:

  • rescue an injured person
  • retrieve a deceased person
  • protect the health or safety of a person
  • restore a workplace to safe working conditions.

This is to protect evidence that may help determine the cause of the incident.

Penalties apply if the operator fails to preserve a site, unless there is a reasonable excuse or permissible reason. If you are unsure whether an incident site needs to be preserved, contact Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Page last reviewed: 26 April 2022
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Date printed 15 Jul 2024