Typically, the ATSB safety reporting team receives more than 17,000 notifications of safety occurrences each year, spread over aviation, marine and rail.
While there may be duplicate notifications of the same occurrence and many of the notifications submitted are about matters not required to be reported under the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003, each one is reviewed and recorded.
The TSI Act requires any responsible person who has knowledge of any accident or serious incident (or any immediately reportable matter) to report it as soon as it is reasonably practicable.
Immediately reportable matters also require a written notification within 72 hours, as do safety incidents (or routine reportable matters).
While the terms of this requirement may seem broad, the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2021 (TSI Regulations) provide a list of persons who, by the nature of their qualifications, experience or professional association, would be likely to have knowledge of an immediate or routine reportable matter for their mode of transport.
In addition, responsible persons are not required to report a transport safety matter if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that another responsible person has already reported, or is in the process of reporting, that matter.
The ATSB maintains a 24-hour service to receive notifications, including a toll-free telephone number (for immediately reportable matters).
For aviation, a secure online form for written notifications is available on the ATSB website.
In rail, all immediately notifiable matters are reported to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), which then reports to the ATSB. The written notifications are provided to the ATSB via reporting to ONRSR.
In marine, both immediately reportable and routine reportable matters are reported to the ATSB via AMSA.
While not all reported occurrences are investigated, the details of each occurrence are retained within the ATSB occurrence database. These records are a valuable resource, providing a detailed portrait of transport safety in Australia. The searchable public version of the aviation occurrence database is available on the ATSB website and contains data from July 2003 onwards. The online database is used by industry, academics, the media and regulators to search and research past events.