How to Write an Incident Report

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” (Peter Drucker). That’s the adage that lies behind the policy of reporting on incidents in the workplace. Even in the safest of workplaces, incidents do happen, and improvements are possible.

Published November 30, 2022

2 minute read

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” (Peter Drucker). That’s the adage that lies behind the policy of reporting on incidents in the workplace. Even in the safest of workplaces, incidents do happen, and improvements are possible.

A safety incident refers an accident, incident, or near-miss, whether or not death or personal injury or other property damage is caused. A near-miss is also sometimes called a “good catch”. A written account of an incident is called an incident report. It is a record of the event that preceded an incident and their immediate aftermath.

Writing an incident report is mostly done to learn from past mistakes and stop similar incidents from happening again. If there are injuries, this is particularly crucial since it will teach workers how to prevent future incidents from happening. Additionally, it assists management in figuring out what went wrong and how to make their policies and processes better moving forward to make workers safer.

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A flow of robust data on minor incidents and near-misses, in which no one was harmed but where there was the potential for injury, is the driver of a strong, modern health and safety management system. It allows professionals to scrutinise and control the hazards thrown up by tasks as they are carried out every day when people interact with processes. Information on these small holes in the fabric of protection gives practitioners evidence to support requests to senior management for funding for extra equipment or training or support for safety campaigns before they are a matter of urgency. This information flow is fundamental to helping EHS professionals meet the organisation’s legal duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

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When to Write an Incident Report

  • Any circumstance where you believe an accident could have led to serious injury or if you have concerns for the security of nearby customers, merchants, or other people.
  • An event resulting in a severe injury to a worker or client (or a visitor).
  • An incident that causes property or equipment damage results.
  • A mishap brought on by the negligence or carelessness of another, even if it just results in a close call.

What to Include in an Incident Report


An incident report should include all pertinent details such as who was involved, what equipment was involved and when and where it happened. Bear in mind though that simplicity will improve engagement. Here’s a helpful table with some brief information on what to include:

Description of what happened Provide as much detail as possible
Where did it happen? Can you link an exact location?
When did it happen? Exact date and time
Who was there and who was involved? Can you tag them in the report?
How did everyone respond? Details of any corrective actions taken
Why did the incident occur? Detail why in your opinion the incident happened
Were there any other witnesses? Can you tag them in the report?
Was there any damage to a person or property? List damages

 

Driving Cultural Maturity


A critical function of hazard and near-miss reporting is that it can help drive the development of a mature safety culture. 
 
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Giving workers a role in hazard spotting and reporting is one of the simplest ways to foster awareness of work risks and to accelerate the development of a shared sense of responsibility for workplace safety among all workers. It helps drive the development of an ethos in which people do not pass by hazards by unaware but notice them, remedy them if possible, and report them.
 

Frictionless Reporting


Promoting proactive behavioural change is far easier to achieve when friction is removed. This means that systems need to be easy to use and instantly accessible. Watch this 3-minute presentation on Frictionless reporting from Rob Leech to learn more: 

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Every workplace is different so your health and safety software should reflect that. EcoOnline's EHS modules are flexible and give you the knowledge you need to make the right decisions today, and into the future. Our Incident Reporting Software allows you to capture, manage and investigate incidents and accidents while minimising delay. If you would like to streamline incident and accident reporting and manage your investigations easily, take a demo of EcoOnline today.


Author Julie Currid

Julie is Head of International Marketing (UK & US) for EcoOnline. She has worked in the EHS software space since 2010 and enjoys the sustainable nature of the initiatives being implemented by EcoOnline customers.

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