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October 26, 2018

Write an Effective Incident Report in 5 Steps

With proper safety training and an air-tight safety program in your workplace, you won’t have to write too many incident reports. However, sometimes things slip through the cracks and it results in an incident or near-miss. When this happens, it’s not only mandated by OSHA to report it, but it can be imperative in future prevention of like incidents.

The best way to go about reporting an incident is to fill out an incident report and using a safety software for recordkeeping. The following steps will help you to write an effective incident report that covers all of the necessary elements needed for further action.

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        1. Respond in a Timely Manner

You should begin to gather the details almost immediately after receiving news and becoming aware of the incident. This will help you gather details that are fresh in the minds of those involved, and will help you be able to piece together the factors involved in the incident’s occurrence.

        2. Gather All of the Details and Facts

Male and female safety professional discussing something about the workplace using a tablet

Having all the facts is important in being able to decipher what caused the incident and how it can be prevented in the future. It’s also necessary for business insurance purposes and to help make decisions in the final stages of analysis. Critical facts of the incident to include are:

Another resource that is beneficial for documenting events is to take pictures of where the incident took place. Note the conditions of the area and the scene(s) of the incident. If available, CCTV footage is another avenue of reviewing the chain of events that led to the incident.

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        3. Piece Together the Sequence of Events

Safety professional in a warehouse piecing together a sequence of events

Piecing together the sequence of events will help determine which factors were involved and how they were involved at the time the incident occurred.

The details gathered above should be specific enough so that anyone reading the report can seamlessly create a story in their mind, and can, therefore, view the incident as a whole. It often helps to create a diagram to start to visually analyze the incident.

        4. Analyze Your Findings of the Incident

You can now begin to create an in-depth analysis of what caused the events, the factors involved, and ultimately answer the “why” of the incident. With the details you gathered, you should be able to speculate the following items:

        5. Formulate a Preventative Action Plan

An incident report is useless without a plan to correct actions for future prevention. Every incident is a hard lesson that has yet to be learned or has been overlooked. The following items are examples of areas that may need correcting based on the facts surrounding the incident:

Bottom Line

A good incident report identifies the problem using in-depth analysis and research and offers a viable solution to that problem. A thorough, well-prepared report will accurately pinpoint what corrective action is necessary so that you may prevent future incidents and keep your team safe!

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