ASTM-F3256 Standard Guide for Reporting and Recording of Near-Misses for Maritime Industry


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1.1 This guide provides near-miss reporting criteria and terminology for maritime vessels.

1.2 The purpose of this near-miss reporting guide is to standardize near-miss reporting, including terminology, for the maritime industry.

1.3 The criteria contained within this guide should be applied as a minimum to all near-miss reporting in the maritime industry unless otherwise specified.

1.4 This guide is divided into the following sections and appendixes:

Table of Contents

Sections and Subsections







Significance and Use


Near-Miss Standardization





Appendix X1

Probability, Severity, and Risk Assessment

Appendix X2

Sample Near-Miss Reporting Form

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

Significance and Use

3.1 The objective of this guide is to provide near-miss reporting guidance for maritime vessels to promote standardization of near-miss reporting which will allow for better use of the data industrywide.

3.2 Importance of Near-Miss Reporting: 

3.2.1 Most accidents/incidents are preceded by a chain of events, circumstances, acts, or conditions. If any of these events, circumstances, acts, or conditions had transpired another way, at another time, or had been corrected, the accident/incident may have been avoided. Reporting near-misses can play an important role in learning from mistakes, preventing accidents, and suffering from their serious consequences.

3.3 Near-miss reporting can provide information that can be used to improve most any safety system, often complementing other safety system components such as accident/incident investigations, hazard analyses, safety reporting, prioritizing, root cause analysis, solution identification, communication, identifying corrective actions, sharing lessons learned, leading safety indicator analyses, and safety culture enhancement. In addition, in terms of human life and property damage, near-misses are very low cost learning tools for training, prevention of re-occurrence, and a new data source on what may work to break the chain of events before an accident occurs. Finally, near-misses may provide key data that can prevent low probability-high consequence accidents by providing safer alternatives.

3.4 Barriers to Near-Miss Reporting: 

3.4.1 It is generally agreed that effective near-miss reporting can reduce hazardous conditions and situations in the workplace, resulting in a reduction in accidents, or at least provide an opportunity for hazard identification and abatement. However, there remain significant challenges and obstacles to implementing near-miss recording/reporting systems. The barriers to near-miss recording/reporting can be related to the employees and management as well as outside influences. The barriers to near-miss recording/reporting can lead to underreporting in the maritime industry. Common near-miss reporting barriers include, but are not limited to:

• Employees lack adequate near-miss training. Employees must be trained to report near-misses, how to report near-misses, what constitutes a near-miss, and the benefits of near-miss reporting.

• Employees not being fully engaged in the development and operation of near-miss reporting. Employees should be involved in the development and implementation of near-miss reporting.

• Employees feel their near-miss reports are not being followed up on. If the reports are not actively followed up on and there is not clear communication between ship and shore, near-miss reporting efforts will fail.

• Employees fear some type of reprimand or discipline. Employees must not fear any disciplinary action, peer teasing, or supervisory belittling. A means of anonymous or confidential reporting should exist and a positive, no-blame near-miss reporting culture needs to be nurtured.

• Employee lack adequate motivation to report near-misses or even disincentives. Participation in near-miss reporting cuts across all levels of an organization and management must fully support near-miss reporting through their words, actions, and support.

• Management not providing unwavering support to near-miss reporting. This includes providing adequate time for the employee to complete the near-miss report. Additionally, this includes any financial support or support from external experts, if necessary to correct potentially hazardous conditions. Management commitment to safety has a positive effect on reporting, while underreporting has been linked to lack of management commitment to safety.

• Near-miss reporting is viewed as overly time consuming. Near-miss reporting forms must be streamlined to be easily completed, easily available, easily submitted, easily reviewed, and lessons learned easily disseminated.

• Management may fear legal liability or recrimination. When deciding to formalize a near-miss reporting system, organizations have both legitimate and unsubstantiated fears of liability and recrimination. Regardless, if legislators, enforcement agencies, and the legal community give companies legitimate fear of liability based on their near-miss reporting or the fear is unfounded, the result most likely will be the same; companies will not report near-misses. Near-miss reporting must be viewed by all stakeholders (companies, legislators, enforcement agencies, and the legal system) as one of the most effective ways to identify hazards and reduce accidents/incidents and not used for recrimination of any type.


corrective action; lessons learned; maritime; near-miss; near-miss frequency; near-miss reporting; ship; vessel;

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Publication Date

Sept. 1, 2017

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Page Count

10 pages

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