Incident data based on incidents recorded by the BSS Office Team

Incident reports are used to help identify patterns of risk and any new risks not previously envisaged. That in turn helps define our planned risk management activities.

The process of compiling incident information employed relies on the receiving-of or gathering-in of details of boating incidents including fire, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and now includes monitoring of capsize, sinking and man overboard incidents.

The Incident and Accident Data Collection


The incident data used to populate this report is recorded by the BSS Office.  The data includes incidents relating mostly to boats used on inland waterways.  However, incidents of fire, explosion and CO on coastal boats are recorded where the craft may be of the type that could be used inland or where the systems aboard may be common to those on inland boats.

Collected incident data cannot be considered as a complete record of incidents on any waters.  Many minor incidents are not reported to any agency, let alone published.  Where agencies, typically fire, ambulance or other health organisations have records of a boat related incidents, there are still likely to be only a minority of such records made public. 

In the BSS incident records, where fire has spread from one boat to another each boat affected is counted as one record and cause is recorded as conflagration.  This is a reference to one of the purposes of the Scheme to help prevent the spread of fire from happening. It is an indicator of the potential for such events.

Where two or more boats collide in one event, it is counted as one incident.

The tidal R. Thames from Grays to Richmond i.e. an area under Port of London Authority (PLA) control, commonly used by inland waterways craft, is for the purposes of BSS incident reports included in Non-BSS Inland waterways. Likewise, incidents happening in the Cardiff Harbour Authority waters.


The BSS Office collects reports of UK recreational boat-related accidents and incidents from any source. 


Information is collected from navigation authority reports directly made to the BSS or indirectly found by the Scheme. The BSS Office also sources from social media, blue light service web sites, news sites as well the use of search engines and RSS alerts.  Information from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and dealings with Coroners’ Officers is also included.  Other people from the marine trade have been helpful in reporting incidents or supplying greater detail.  We also review key stakeholder statistics.

Wider Purpose

We are interested to establish causes and circumstances to help establish trends and inform BSS Office activity aimed at helping prevent re-occurrences.  Our job is to react to trends, or identify new risks or predict potential risks, in an appropriate way.  This involves working with stakeholder groups through the BSS Advisory and Technical Committees.


The data collected feeds into current and future BSS activities associated with the key risk areas through the application of the BSS Risk Management Process [BSSQA020 - LINK]. The data is also used to support navigation authority input concerning their other activities.


The BSS is not responsible for, and does not conduct investigations into accidents/incidents, but we may view fire reports or coroner’s verdicts in order to inform our assessment.  We may help the investigation of incidents by facilitating the return for testing of suspected faulty equipment to the manufacturer/ supplier.  We also assist Navigation Authorities in their responsibilities in investigating incidents.  

Other Risk Roles

We may also test the experience of the BSS Examiners by way of targeted surveys.  Through partnerships, we may seek to influence relevant British and European standards-making activities.

In the event any accident or incident casts doubts about the issue of a BSS Certification, the BSS Office will seek to view the vessel in order to ascertain the reasons why a certification was issued and take forward actions based on the findings.

The latest Annual Reports are published on the public website [LINK]