What is an incident report?
An incident report is a document that an organisation must fill out when an incident takes place. An incident can be considered as any event in which someone has been hurt, a health and safety issue has been discovered, something has been damaged, or other misconduct has occurred in the workplace.
Usually written in a form or a template, the report serves to detail exactly what has happened, who was involved, the date and time of the incident, where the incident took place and why it happened, as well as any follow-up action taken afterwards. Incident reports provide insight into whether appropriate steps were taken at the time and should lead to organisations creating plans to prevent recurring incidents.
Typically, an incident report is used by the organisation to increase their overall health and safety and to make sure there are consistencies in how incidents are dealt with. In some cases, it could also be used by police or legal institutions if an issue needs to be taken further.
It is important for all members of an organisation to understand the importance of incident reports, and how they can create one.
Here are 3 things your organisation should do to increase effectiveness of incident reports:
1. Be clear on what an incident is
Everybody has a different level of tolerance, and some team members will allow incidents to go without reporting them, simply because the employees are used to the behaviours they are experiencing, or they find reporting unnecessary as they do not understand the benefits.
It is important to have clear guidelines on what an incident is and to be clear on boundaries. Even though some team members can tolerate higher levels of threats and abuse, not all team members can. Within a company, there should be explicit boundaries on what is acceptable behaviour.
All incidents, big or small, should be reported, to prevent future harm. Even ‘near misses’ should be communicated, so potential hazards can be reported and mitigated effectively.
2. Help train the team on how to write an incident report
Organisations need to provide a form or template for employees to fill out, this will ensure that they know exactly what to include in their reports. Team members must also understand that an incident report needs to be filled out as soon as possible after the event takes place.
Furthermore, it should be made clear that the report is objective, not subjective. For example:
Subjective: The person showed his usual aggressive behaviour.
Objective: The person demonstrated aggressive behaviour and was observed with clenched fists, pacing up and down, waving their arms and calling out obscenities.
This prevents bias and emotion from influencing the factual elements of the report. All parties involved (including witnesses) should check the report for accuracy and sign off on it before it is filed.
Team members can also include photo evidence or illustrations of the event to help display what has occurred.
3. Follow up on incident reports
Incident reports should not simply be filed away and forgotten. They are a tool that allows organisations to identify patterns and risks and take steps to reduce them. Therefore, reviewing, or debriefing incident reports and monitoring what has been done following them is a crucial step.
Often, organisations only use incident reports for statistics, rather than to conduct training and drills around the behaviour outlined. It is important to support the team when incidents happen, and employees should always receive training on how to prevent similar events from taking place.
Organisations need to create strategies to deal with difficult behaviour and put in place appropriate actions that help minimise future risk. A desirable outcome is all team members are aware of the appropriate processes and safety protocols.
If you need help or advice on how to write incident reports, or how to create drills from these incidents, fill in the form below. We are eager to work with you.