What should an incident report include? Forgetting to add pertinent details that later prove required can put a damper on your health and safety incident reporting process. In today’s fast-paced society, we don’t have time to memorize all the little details. With this handy guide, there’s one less thing you need to try to remember.
Incident Reports are an essential element of the health and safety protocol. Including all the relevant details is critical to the probability of completing an incident report document that provides value to your company, facility, or organization.
This quick reference guide will discuss all of the essential elements that the incident report must include. Each component is explained in relatively sharp detail to help you get a fast glance of the features to include and why they are relevant. We’ll also end things with a few tips to increase your reporting program’s value.
The 5 Sections Of An Incident Report And The 12 Things To Include
Most free, paid, or even custom incident reports like the example above include data that we can look at as several distinct data sections. Digital incident reporting templates may have a slightly different flow of data, but a printed result would include the same information. Here are the five sections of a general incident report and the 12 things you need to have in the incident report:
SECTION ONE – The Administrative Details Of The Incident Report
On nearly every template for an incident report, the top section performs as the keeper of administrative details. These details are relatively consistent, no matter the type of incident report. Some incident reports for particular purposes may include other data, but the information should remain relatively constant. The idea is to identify the report, the writer, the location, date, and time of the incident.
- The report writer’s name and title.
We need to have the person’s name who is generating the incident report. You should also include the title in most situations. For example, if working in health care, one might also have which unit or ward the incident occurred. The writer’s contact information should also be on-page.
- The time and date of the incident.
Time and date are critical points of information that must find their way onto the report. In the case of vehicular accidents, deeming night driving conditions might be vital to further investigation, so you can understand the importance of recording this detail.
- The location where the incident occurred.
The location is relevant to where the incident took place. In some instances, an incident might span across multiple areas, such as a patient going from one ward to another. Recording the location or locations of the incident is critical for further investigation and thus requires inclusion on the incident report.
SECTION TWO – The Incident Information
- Details of events leading up to the incident.
In many cases of an incident, hindsight reveals that people may have prevented the incident if different action courses had taken place. Recording any pertinent details of events leading up to the incident may be required at a later date. Take short and concise notes about anything related to the cause, so a root cause analysis using a safety leading indicators form or similar might occur.
- Description of the incident as it occurred.
It may seem obvious, but there is more to the details of an incident than one might assume. Describing an incident might seem trivial, but the words, language, and descriptions you choose to put down on paper or screen will later potentially come to play a vital role in further action. Consider what and how information transcribed on the report might be revealed later (like in the courts, for example).
- Record of injuries and damages.
If the incident involved any personal injury or damage to any property, you must record the information. If an injury has transpired, register any facility name, and address where a person sought treatment. Ensuring that all information is documented is vital for understanding the incident and how People could prevent it from recurring in the future. If you’re looking for an employee injury form, try this template out for size.
“Safety work is today recognized as an economic necessity. It is the study of the right way to do things.” – Robert W. Campbell, first president of the NSA (National Safety Council)
SECTION THREE – Witness Accounts And Observations
- Current incident area observations.
When you arrive on-scene to record and document an incident, it is essential to note your surroundings’ conditions. If it was a slip and fall event, is the ground icy or the floor wet and slippery? If it was a vehicle hitting a parking garage door, was it slippery on the garage ramp, for example? Several environmental factors, whether inside or out, could play a role in the events leading up to or even causing the incident.
- Witness names and contact information.
Sometimes other people witness an event, and you should note their statements. However, remember that their perspectives may sway people, so make sure you read the five tips later in this article to help with that.
- Witness statements.
Witness names and contact info is great, but it helps to include what they witnessed. Keep it brief in this section; the details earlier should have navigated through the facts already.
“They were willing to work all the time; and when people did their best, ought they not to be able to keep alive?” – Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
SECTION FOUR – Actions And Recommendations
The fourth and last data-driven portion of the incident report includes actions taken and recommendations.
- Actions you or others took to aid affected individuals and prevent further hazards.
Detail any immediate actions to help resolve injury, such as administering first aid, calling emergency personnel, or similar actions. Also include any hazard mitigation type of actions, including installing barrier tape and placing pylons around a hazard or similar preventive action.
- Further actions are required and recommended further responses.
Further to immediate actions taken, most incident reports also include recommendations to prevent recurring negative impact events. It might include adding hand railing, or further traffic directing light controls, or any number of other physical or procedural changes or modifications that would benefit from preventing further incidents from occurring.
End Of Document (Footer) Section
- The finalization of the document with sign-off.
The final section of most incident reports is typically more of a formality than anything else. It is the final testament to the truth that the report has been completed and as truthfully as the writer was able. And thus, the writer sign’s off on the document’s completion and authenticity.
5 Tips To Include In Your Incident Report Writing And Process
Writing a basic incident report is one thing, but adding value while protecting yourself and those involved from further harm is something else. Prevention is the name of the game here, and no one wants to have to fill out an incident report – it’s something we have to do when a negative event takes place. But, what if you were able to cause positive change by writing an excellent and proactively helpful, data-driven incident report? Here are a few tips to help get you started.
- Write Factually
When writing an incident report, only write the facts. Never write assumptions. It’s easy to ‘put two and two together’ but much more difficult to keep them apart and let the numbers speak for themselves. We all fall into a tendency to want to be useful and proclaim we have a solution, but inferring results can be as damaging as missing the facts altogether. Please keep it clean and factual and leave out all assumptions when writing an incident report.
- Avoid Judgement
Assumptions aren’t the only dangers that threaten a well-written incident report. Judgment falls into many incident reports, much to the chagrin of the person who inadvertently included it. Always include an impartial view of events and never place judgment.
- Include Pictures And Media
You must have heard the expression ‘A picture speaks a thousand words.’ Well, that is likely true. And if that’s the case, how many words would a short video speak?
Including pictures, audio, video, or similar media in your report is an excellent way to provide further information and data with blinding efficiency. It is vital to your procedure (or at least, it should be). Using printed paper reports? Keep reading for a media solution for your situation.
- Appoint Senior Report Governance
Let’s jump over to a more procedural management tip; it’s one thing to have a reporting system in place; it’s something else to make it work for you. The great idea is to task senior personnel and management to review incident reports and recommendations. Senior management and personnel have the experience necessary to provide solutions to your industry problems because they’ve been there. Respect the knowledge of those who have experience and use it to your facility’s advantage.
- Use A Digital Solution
Having a robust health and safety program is not only proactive; it’s just plain smart. Using incident reports to track incidents and further strategize for incident prevention is also smart. But a printed incident report template, although thorough in its purpose, maybe inadequate in today’s society. After all, who doesn’t walk around with a smartphone ready to record video at a moment’s notice?
If it’s the media you are thinking of, including your reports, you hit the nail on the head. Modern technology affords us the ability to easily record pictures, audio, and video within merely seconds. This new technology has proved so useful in the incident reporting world that paper incident reports are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
The solution? A digital incident reporting platform like 1ST Incident Reporting. You can write incident reports of various and custom types, have instant notifications sent any time a report is generated (or other triggers). Of course, you can upload media like photos and videos to the reports.
The Bottom Line On What To Include In Your Report
Reporting incidents requires a non-judgemental, impartial view with a sense of factual data and a lack of creative interpretation. The factual nature the report strives to achieve is critical in an effective and proactive health and safety reporting regiment.
Including the correct data, information, and observations are vital to your incident report’s success, as noted in this article. Knowing how to present the data to avoid liability or further harm to individuals or property is also key in communicating an incident’s events.
As you’ve no doubt gleaned, there is much more to writing an incident report than most people might think. But now, armed with this quick reference guide and the knowledge provided, you can charge head-on into your reporting duties and make a positive change in your organization with an accurate and concise incident report.
- Main photo by Alex Green from Pexels