Definitions of accidents, incidents, mishaps and serious harm

Read about the full definitions of accidents, incidents, mishaps and serious harm injuries.


The following definitions of accidents, incidents, mishaps and serious harm injuries are abbreviated versions only based upon the Maritime Transport Act 1994, in section 2*.


An accident means an occurrence that involves a ship and in which:

  • a person is seriously harmed as a result of
    • being on the ship; or
    • direct contact with any part of the ship including any part that has become detached from the ship; or
    • direct exposure to the wash of the ship or interaction (other than direct contact) between 2 ships; or
    • being involved in the salvage of any ship - except where the injuries are self inflicted or inflicted by other persons or when injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to passengers and crew; or
  • the ship sustains damage or structural failure that:
    • adversely affects the structural strength, performance or seaworthiness of the ship; or
    • would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component; or
    • poses a threat to the safety of people on board the ship; or
    • there is a complete or partial failure of machinery or equipment that affects the seaworthiness of the ship; or
  • there is a loss of, or damage to, or movement of, or change in the state of, the cargo of the ship which poses a risk to the ship or other ships; or
  • there is a significant loss of, or significant damage to, property (not being the cargo carried by the ship) or the property of any person (whether or not aboard the ship), whether or not the loss or damage arises from an interaction between 2 ships; or
  • there is a loss or escape of any substance or thing that
    • may result or has resulted, in serious harm to any person; or
    • may pose a risk, or has resulted in damage to the ship or other ships; or
    • may pose a risk, or has resulted in damage to any property (whether or not on board the ship); or
  • a person is lost at sea (whether or not subsequently found) or is missing; or
  • the ship is foundering, capsizing, being abandoned; stranding; missing or has foundered, capsized, been abandoned, been in a collision, or has had a major fire on board.


An incident means any occurrence, other than an accident, that is associated with the operation of a ship and affects or could affect the safety of operation.


A mishap means an event that:

  • causes any person to be harmed; or
  • in different circumstances, might have caused any person to be harmed.

Serious harm

Serious harm means:

  • death; or
  • any of the following conditions that amounts to or results in permanent loss of bodily function, or temporary severe loss of bodily function:
    • respiratory disease
    • noise induced hearing loss
    • neurological disease
    • cancer
    • dermatological disease
    • communicable disease
    • musculoskeletal disease
    • illness caused by exposure to infected material
    • decompression sickness
    • poisoning
    • vision impairment
    • chemical or hot metal burn of eye
    • penetrating wound of eye
    • bone fracture
    • laceration
    • crushing
    • amputation of body part - including part of a finger
    • burns requiring referral to a specialist registered medical practitioner or specialist outpatient clinic
    • loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen
    • loss of consciousness, or acute illness requiring treatment by a registered medical practitioner, from absorption, inhalation or ingestion, of any substance
    • any harm that causes that person to be hospitalised for a period of 48 hours or more commencing within 7 days of the harm’s occurrence


Harm means - Illness, injury or both.

* For full legal definitions, please refer to the Maritime Transport Act