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The Basics of Safety Incident Reporting

Every enterprise needs standardized forms for reporting safety incidents. Safety incident reporting is essential for accountability, and the filing of a report should trigger corrective actions. Learn how to write an incident report by using templates, and see how digitizing and automating incident reporting supports workplace safety.

Why Report Safety Incidents

Some workplaces are riskier than others. Safety incident reports are standard documentation for enterprises in the construction, field services, manufacturing and utilities fields. Other operations may occasionally need to document accidents, injuries, equipment damage or other incidents.

Digital forms for safety incident reports are easier to file, store and access than paper reports. These digitized documents can also be incorporated into automated workflows with defined emergency response protocols.

How To Write An Incident Report

Incident reports are concise explanations of situations that pose safety risks. When reporting a safety incident, it is important to be mindful of the “Five Ws,” which are questions for information gathering. An incident report should account for all of the following factors:

  • Who: Include the names, job titles and departments of employees involved in a safety incident. Contact information can be helpful for incident response.
  • What: Clearly describe the nature of an incident. Try to account for causal factors that led to an incident.
  • Where: Indicate the location of an incident. The area of a factory floor and any equipment involved are relevant.
  • When: Note the date and time. Temporal details can be cross-referenced with facility and employee schedules.
  • Why: Pose a hypothesis about why an incident occurred. End a report by recommending how corrective measures should be taken.

It can be helpful to look up an industry-specific incident report sample to determine which fields to include on forms. The question of how an incident occurred should guide recommendations for corrective action.

How To Use an Incident Report Template

Many types of incident report templates are available online. Most of these forms are general enough to apply across industries, but more specific forms are also available. As safety hazards vary widely based on the work being done, it can be helpful to seek out safety incident report templates for similar enterprises.

Stakeholders can obtain the most relevant information by customizing a workplace incident report template. Technical information about equipment or machines may be necessary to explain why an accident took place or indicate corrective measures.

A Standard Accident Report Format

The standard format for reporting accidents includes fields for describing an incident and identifying persons involved. Fields may also be available for identifying witnesses and recording testimony. Incident reports may also include checklists for use in inspecting equipment or the work environment.

Forms for reporting bodily injuries should include a detailed on-site evaluation of the condition of injured persons. Information about treatment administered on-site, including first aid, and clarification regarding whether and when emergency medical help was summoned can also prove helpful.

Helpful Incident Report Data

Incident reporting forms are often relatively short documents but can include additional information. Here are a few data points that can be gathered through prompts on incident report forms:

  • Note training status: If someone involved in an incident was not fully trained, this factor should lead to more oversight into training and staffing. It is also helpful to keep records of employee attendance at safety meetings.
  • Observe repeated incidents: Recurring risks are more likely to lead to safety incidents than rare issues. Risks that have been repeatedly documented should be addressed to manage liability.
  • Report near misses: Near-misses can be just as helpful for identifying risks as accidents. Workers and managers should report these incidents so preventative measures can be taken.
  • Trace cause and effect: Identifying the causes and effects of a safety incident can be helpful for adjusting workflows in real-time. This information can also be used to improve emergency response protocols.
  • Recommend corrective measures: A complete safety incident report should conclude with actionable measures to reduce risk. The recommended measures should be taken to prevent incidents from recurring.

Stakeholders can protect an enterprise against unnecessary risks and liabilities by fully documenting any safety incidents that occur. This additional data can be helpful for guiding corrective action to prevent incidents from recurring.

Follow Up on Safety Incident Reports

When a safety incident report is filed, clear protocols should be in place for review, approval and storage. Automating workflows under ordinary circumstances and setting up emergency procedures for incident response can go a long way toward ensuring that stakeholders are aware of a report and take timely action.

In addition to accidents and injuries, it is also important to acknowledge warnings issued in the form of near-misses. Stakeholders should be sure to follow through on these reports to prevent avoidable injuries or equipment damage. Furthermore, acknowledging potential risks in writing and failing to take mitigation measures raises liability concerns. When properly prepared and processed, safety documentation is useful for optimizing operations and managing risk.

Digitize and Automate Safety Incident Reporting

The best way to ensure that safety incident reports are properly filed and reviewed by authorized parties is to digitize these documents. Paper safety incident reports are easy to misplace and can be more difficult to keep track of over the months and years after an incident. Digital safety incident reports can be more transparent in terms of dates of file creation and modification and easier to access.

Automating workflow processes, including emergency response procedures, is the easiest way to ensure that protocols are followed in the aftermath of an incident. Fluix provides enterprises with a platform for secure document distribution and tools to automate workflow processes for ordinary operations and exigencies such as safety incidents.

Reviewing safety incident report templates can be an easy way to learn how to write an incident report. It is still important to customize a template for the unique safety risks and regulatory requirements of an enterprise. Digitization can make these forms available to authorized users, while workflow automation can ensure that safety reporting protocols lead to corrective actions that mitigate risk.


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