How to Write an Effective Incident Report

While we all like to think that they’ll never happen to us, incidents are a certainty. What makes a difference, however, is how your business deals with them. By taking all incidents seriously and documenting them, you are demonstrating to your employees that you are trying to cultivate a safety culture. However, what you record and how has a significant impact on the success of documenting workplace incidents. Writing an effective incident report requires a thorough understanding of the importance of incident reporting, with an incident form to match. When done well, the report becomes a tool to enable your business to conduct investigations and to avoid similar or more serious incidents happening in the future.

What is the Purpose of an Incident Report?

Your go-to tool in the event of a workplace incident should be an incident report. A report is essentially a form that allows you to document all workplace occurrences that could have caused injury to a person or damage to a company asset. Incidents can include injuries and accidents, near misses, equipment damage, health and safety issues and security breaches.

The purpose of an incident report is to state the cause of the problem along with corrective actions that can be taken to minimise the risk of a future occurrence. The forms can also be used as safety documents, outlining potential safety hazards around the workplace. Incident reports should be completed at the time of an incident by either an authority figure an employee or another member of the organisation.

The Different Types of Workplace Incidents

A workplace incident can include a huge variety of events. However, what they share in common is that they either cause disruption, create risk or impact on workplace systems. However small an incident, it’s critical it should be reported and an incident report completed.

As an employer, manager or safety official, you should be aware of the four key types of incidents that every business may encounter in the workplace:

  1. Unanticipated incidents – any unexpected situation, such as a car accident, natural disaster or fall that results in death or serious physical or psychological injury.
  2. Avoided incidents – these are the near misses when those involved were not injured but could have been by the observed incident and related risk.
  3. Adverse incidents – any event that occurs due to vaccines or medical devices either being omitted or causing more harm than the existing disease or condition.
  4. Awareness incidents – there will always be a level of risk within the workplace; it should be communicated across a business to raise awareness and thereby reduce the risk.
What to Include in a Good Incident Report

An incident report gives your business a systematic way to record and investigate incidents. Your report needs to allow you to easily document all the relevant aspects and, ultimately, not to forget any essential details. To ensure all facts and necessary details are complete, an effective incident report should include:

  • Specific details – accuracy is key when it comes to an incident report. Avoid ambiguity in your statements and make sure it is absolutely clear what you are referring to. You’ll want to ensure you have proofread your report and that it never contains inaccuracies in names of people involved, dates and times.
  • Facts only – emotions and personal opinions have no place in your incident report; you need to be objective and to record the facts alone. Both sides of a story should, of course, be included, but there should be no favouritism. And, if witness statements are included, they’ll need to be clearly quoted.
  • Complete picture – as well as being accurate, you need to be exhaustive in your report. Make sure you’ve got all the essentials covered, the what, where, why, when and how. Always consider what details would be needed for future investigation into the matter.
  • Supporting evidence – facts can be supported by the likes of photos, diagrams, CCTV footage, and phone calls. Taking photos of injury, damage and the environment can add more clarity to the reader and will ensure the facts are fully understood.
  • Validation – everyone who is involved in the incident should sign off to confirm that the information recorded in the incident report is truthful.
The Importance of Incident Reporting

Incident reports should form a defining piece of every company’s incident response protocol. You should have a relevant and comprehensive incident report form at the ready when an incident takes place. With a great report to hand, you can investigate the problem with fact-finding and build recommendations to prevent an increase in frequency and severity of the incident.

Understanding the importance of incident reporting will help your business determine the root cause of any incident and put in place corrective measures to reduce the risk. What’s more, by having an effective incident report form, you will reassure your employees that you’re ready to take action. By committing to effective incident reporting you can build a safer workplace environment, avoid the risk of incidents occurring and, ultimately, inspire change.

For over a decade, Conserve has helped organisations overcome contractor management challenges. We can help you develop a contractor management service that will be not only effective but will make your organisation safer, while minimising your overall risk. Request a demo now or visit the Conserve page for more great content.

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  1. Nichole Mahany

    Hello. Thanks for this info! Useful article!.

  2. Simptreat.Com

    In the report, you must specify the actions of those involved at the time of the incident. What did the employee do that led to the incident? 

  3. Med Advice

    It is also important to document in the incident report the type of treatment administered for the acknowledged injuries. This information is important to document in order to understand how the employee recovers when reviewing the specifics of the event.


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