Effective procedures following workplace incidents are key in cultivating a culture of safety within your business. Every incident should be the impetus for a risk management review, with the end goal to be avoiding a similar event at any stage in the future.
Incident reports are important tools in achieving this goal.
What should you include in an incident report? The following elements will help you to create a thorough, factual report that will help you to minimise future liabilities and keep your employees safe.
1. Specific Details and Description
The more specific the incident report, the more use it will be when making corrective decisions. For instance, instead of documenting that the accident occurred, “in the warehouse,” write, “in the northwest corner of the warehouse approximately 15 metres from the north exit door.” This kind of specificity creates a vivid picture for responsible parties who weren’t present. Ambiguity is the enemy in risk management.
2. Facts Only
It can be tempting to include opinions in incident reports, especially if you feel that your opinion could be helpful to decision makers. For instance, you may be compelled to write, “In my opinion, the team leader should have been present at the project the entire time.” While this may have some value those inspecting the report, it shouldn’t be included. Incident reports should be an entirely factual document because opinions can cloud accuracy and distract from the details.
3. Objective Tone
At times, workplace incidents can spark emotion: anger, sadness, and even fear. But there’s no place for emotions like these in an incident report. Keep the tone of the document as objective as possible. Write accurately and professionally, and don’t allow emotions to get in the way of objectivity.
In most cases, it’s best to organise an incident report chronologically, although inspection incident reports may be organised by enumerating details according to findings. Make the incident report as easy to navigate as possible, using subheadings and bullet points where applicable.
5. Witness Statements
If there were witnesses to the incident, it can be helpful to include their statements in your incident report. Remember to attribute these to specific people. Use quotation marks to frame their statements, and explain the witnesses’ positions and how they relate to the incident.
6. Confidential Concerns
It’s possible that your incident report could be used in court at some point, so avoid including confidential details that should not be made public. These may include the personal health history of someone involved.
If you’re unsure about the accuracy of a detail related to the incident, verify it before you include it. Verification could include a testimonial from additional witnesses, footage from CCTV, or time-stamp data from emails, text messages or phone call logs, depending on the nature of the event.
8. Good Grammar
Correct word choice, complete sentences, and proper punctuation all help your incident report to be as clear and accurate as possible. Poor grammar can confuse facts and undermine the credibility of the document.
9. Sketches, Diagrams, Photos
Not every incident report requires the inclusion of sketches, diagrams, and photos, but in some cases, these additions can be incredibly helpful. If you have supplementary information that would help others to contextualise the incident, include it.
10. Supervisor Signoff
Once the incident report is complete, ensure that it is signed off by the supervisor who was on duty during the incident. The supervisor should recheck the accuracy of all details before signing, and contact information of the supervisor should be included should there be additional questions to answer.
Incident Report Template
Complete and accurate incident reports are an essential tool in risk and safety management. Learn more about how our risk management software empowers you to document events as they happen, allowing you to make informed and strategic decisions to keep your staff safe.
Download your free copy of our Incident Investigation Template below:
Risk and Safety Templates
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