Incident reports are a vital tool for managers who work in every industry. When there is an incident that results in an injury or damage to property, having a clear record of what happened is important for legal, regulatory, and insurance reasons. In addition, incident reports help managers to respond to an accident or problem promptly and effectively. Being able to examine how an incident happened enables supervisors to take important corrective measures that can prevent future accidents.
The best way to ensure that workers report incidents accurately and consistently is to use a standardized incident reporting template. Using a digital template offers several advantages, and it guides the person completing it through each field so that the final report will have all relevant information before it is submitted for review.
Managers should advise workers to fill out an incident report whenever there is an event that results in a worker sustaining a serious or nonserious injury. An incident report is also an important way to document events that cause any type of damage to property such as equipment, materials, or a vehicle.
For example, a worker who is injured using equipment at a production facility should complete an incident report after he has received medical treatment. Even if just one worker is involved in an incident and it was the result of his error or oversight, it is advisable that managers require the worker to document what happened.
In addition, many companies can benefit from using incident reports for any type of event that involves conduct within the workplace that deviates from company policies or could potentially create an unsafe working environment. This type of incident reporting is important for responding to unsafe working conditions, taking disciplinary action against an employee, and effectively training staff about expectations regarding their conduct in the workplace.
When improperly conducted, no performance appraisal is as good as a bad one. Incident reporting must include all of the basic information about what happened in an incident. It should explain who, what, when, where, and how. Some elements of an incident report form may be written like a checklist while others may be written like a narrative report. A thorough incident report template should feature fields about the following information:
Incident reports need to be as thorough as possible, but they should contain only factual information. They are intended to document facts and observations rather than opinions stated as facts. For example, an employee cannot describe the state of mind of another employee when an incident took place. While employees should make an effort to identify hazards that led to an incident, they should refrain from conclusively identifying the cause of an incident if it is uncertain. Instead, they should identify possible causes and describe them in detail. Training employees about how to complete an incident report helps to ensure that they will include all necessary information and exclude statements of opinion.
Incident reports and accident reports are often referred to synonymously, but there is a distinction that managers should be aware of. All accidents are incidents, but not all incidents are accidents. An accident is an unexpected and unintentional event that causes a serious injury or significant property damage. In contrast, an incident may result from an intentional act and may cause only minor injury or damage.
If an accident involves an inpatient hospitalization or fatality, a company must report it to OSHA and provide a complete accident report form. It is extremely important that companies use an accident report form template that is compliant with OSHA’s requirements.
OSHA requires companies that employ 10 or more persons to create an incident report about any event that involves a serious workplace injury. Companies must create a detailed report of this type of incident within seven days after it takes place. In general, it is a good practice to complete an accident report form as soon as possible so that the person completing it has all of the details of what happened fresh in his or her mind. Also, it may be necessary to photograph the conditions that led to the damage or any damage to property that it caused.
Accident reports must be stored and be available for review for a period of no less than five years. Completing and storing accident reports digitally is helpful in complying with this requirement because it helps to assure that the reports are saved in a centralized location.
Managers can use incident reporting to improve the safety of working conditions in many different ways. First, they can remedy problems with equipment or tools that caused an incident. In addition, by analyzing the cause of an accident, they can identify ways in which training can mitigate the risk of accidents. They may also use information in incident reports as the basis for changing operating policies and implementing new safety procedures.
Using a fillable form is helpful in making sure that digital reports include all relevant information. Employees can conveniently access them on their smartphone or use a tablet. Each field must be completed before a person is able to move onto the next. Fields can contain instructions about what information to include, which helps to eliminate uncertainty about what information is relevant. In addition, it is easy to attach photographs or other relevant documents to a report. Moreover, an electronic form can easily be shared with anyone who needs to see it on the same day that is completed.
An incident report should be completed by everyone who saw it take place or saw the aftermath of an incident. Here is an example scenario of a witness’s account of the aftermath of an incident in which an employee accidentally injured himself:
“On November 1, 2020, at 3:30 PM, I was at my workstation when I heard John Smith call out. When I went to his workstation, I saw that he had cut his hand in between his thumb and forefinger. I immediately got the first aid kit and came back to help John cover his wound. John said that he cut his hand using a box cutter as he was opening a box of materials. I called John’s supervisor, and he advised me to take John to get medical attention immediately. We went to the emergency room at St. Augustine Hospital where John was given stitches.”