Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (2023)

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Last Updated on Nov 14, 2022 | Incident Management
Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (1)

Even with all the safety measures in place, safety incidents can still happen. The big question is: how do you learn from them?

The answer lies in the incident report.

An incident report is a written account of a situation that has occurred. It provides a record of events that led up to an accident, as well as its immediate aftermath.

The primary purpose of writing an incident report is to learn from the mistakes and prevent the recurrence of the same kind of incident in future. This is especially important if there are injuries involved, as it will help workers understand how they can avoid similar accidents in the future. It also helps management understand what went wrong and how they can improve their policies or procedures so that workers are safer in the future.

An incident report is necessary when:

  • There’s a serious injury to any employee or customer (or a visitor).
  • An accident causes major damage to equipment or property.
  • An accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence — even if it’s a near-miss.
  • Any other situation where you feel that an accident could have caused significant harm or concerns regarding the safety of employees, vendors, customers or any other people in the vicinity.

Safetymint makes reporting incidents easy and efficient.

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What should you include in an incident report?

An incident report is necessary to record anything from a minor mishap to a major accident and should include all relevant information such as who was involved, what happened and when it happened.

A basic incident report should contain answers to the following questions:.

What happened?

Make sure you include all the details, such as who was involved and what was damaged, lost or destroyed.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (2)

When & where did it happen?

Your report should contain the date, time and location where the accident took place. If your company uses a system to track such information, try using that same system for your reports.

Who were involved?

Include other people who were present at the time of the incident or accident and what they did at the time of the incident. This will help determine how exactly the incident happened and any other secondary contributing factors.

What did they do?

Detail out what each of those persons was doing just before, during and after the incident. This is an important detail to help you get down to the bottom of the incident and truly understand the root cause.

Why did it happen?

Your report should explain why the accident occurred so that anyone reading it can understand how it happened and what could have been done differently to prevent it from occurring again.

Were there any witnesses?

You’ll need witness statements from the people nearby and any other involved parties to help explain an event or clarify who was involved.

What is the extent of damage to a person or property?

This would include the severity of the incident as well as any person or equipment damaged in the incident and the follow-up treatment.

Step-by-step process to write an incident report

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (3)

1. Collect the information

The first step is to collect all the relevant information. This includes all the details of the incident, including wh en it occurred, where it took place, what happened and how many people were affected. You should also include any photos or video evidence that could be relevant. You can use checklists or an incident reporting tool like Safetymint to help you collect the necessary data.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (4)

2. Establish the order of events

Once you have collected all the information about an incident, you need to determine exactly what happened. An effective incident report starts with a summary of what transpired, followed by a description of each event in chronological order. The order of events is crucial because it helps investigators determine whether there is any pattern to the problem and how to fix it.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (5)

3. Analyze the root cause

After determining the exact sequence in which the incident occurred, you need to analyze the root cause of this problem to identify ways of preventing similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The analysis can also include a review of previous incidents that were similar in nature and frequency leading up to this particular incident. This will help you understand if there is a common cause for all these events or not.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (6)

4. Formulate corrective action

With the root cause of the event clear, you can then discuss to formulate corrective or preventive action to avoid a similar incident in the future. These corrective actions should be based on past experiences and lessons learned rather than just assumptions or guesses.

You can also involve other team members or stakeholders who may know about preventing such events from reoccurring in the future. All of these information will be helpful for the investigative team to understand what went wrong and suggest recommendations

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Best practices to follow when writing an incident report

A good incident report should include as many details as possible about the event. Here are some tips for writing an effective incident report:

Describe what happened in detail

Include all facts related to the incident, such as who was involved, when and where it took place, how many people were involved and what they were doing at the time of the accident.

For example, if someone fell from scaffolding due to faulty equipment or improper use of equipment, provide as much information about what the person was doing, the equipment they were handling and the safety protocols followed/neglected — so that others can learn from it and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (7)

Be objective when describing events

Don’t editorialize or speculate about why something happened — simply state what happened and how it affected you or others involved in the accident.

The most important thing about being objective is not allowing emotion to cloud your judgment. Write down what you saw and heard, not what you thought or felt at the time. Avoid making assumptions and using words like “I think” or “I believe” when describing the events.

Be as thorough and accurate as possible, but avoid going into excessive detail about things like how you felt during the incident or what others said afterwards.

Use simple language

Your goal should be for anyone who reads your report to understand exactly what happened without needing any additional context or background information. So avoid using complex phrases or technical terms unless necessary. Otherwise, stick with simple language and avoid using abbreviations or acronyms unless they are widely accepted within your industry.

Include photos, if possible

If the incident caused physical damage, take photos so they can be included with your report. Photos will help show any damages or injuries resulting from the situation and clarify any questions about what happened during the incident.

How Safetymint can help in reporting incidents

Safetymint is an online incident management system developed to help organizations manage safety incidents, observations and near misses. It improves your safety culture by getting more people involved in reporting incidents and it enables you to gather the right data to make better decisions.

Instant reporting

Safetymint offers a simple & quick process for reporting incidents, which helps ensure that all necessary details are captured and recorded correctly. Employees can report hazards themselves through their mobile phones or computers anywhere and at any time.

No prior training

Safetymint has an intuitive interface that’s direct and simple enough that anyone with a smartphone or access to a computer can quickly report the incidents — without any prior training.

Learn how to write an effective incident report through this step-by-step instruction (8)

Overall dashboard view

The safety dashboard allows you to track your leading and lagging indicators at one glance to monitor performance and take corrective action wherever necessary. This will help you develop effective solutions for reducing injuries and improving overall workplace health and safety performance.

Custom investigation workflow

Safetymint includes a 5-step incident investigation process which includes the following steps: Incident reporting, Setting up and investigation team, Root cause analysis, Recommended actions and Review and Closure. This process can be used for both internal as well as external investigations.

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