What Are The Five Rules of Incident Report Writing?

Published on:
March 27, 2024
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When it comes to the issue of 'what are the five rules of incident report writing, a lot of the stuff seems like common sense. It is.

But then again, here's a burning question: when was the last time someone in your organization followed all the protocols associated with whatever incident the report was about, was accurate, written with due diligence, and explained all the details without mulling over too much extra content?

Just so you know, many companies have different versions of incident report writing rules.

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For instance, police departments' incident report writing differs from frontline workers' version in the health and safety sector. However, if there's one thing common about these reports is the intent – i.e., to present a true version of whatever happened to the concerned authorities and to ensure that by writing the incident report, the events do not happen again.

The latter comes from the safety point of view.

In this post, we'll talk about the five rules of incident report writing and different aspects of the subject matter to highlight its significance.

At What Point Should An Incident Report Be Completed?

Filing an incident report depends on different scenarios.

Suppose you work as a frontline supervisor in the safety and maintenance industry. In that case, you can complete an incident report in case of an accident, damage to property or company assets, regardless of whether it was intentional or not, and so on.

As stated earlier, the idea behind the five rules of incident report writing is to ensure that harm, damage, or accident can be prevented shortly. It's a delicate matter where the person responsible for filing these reports must complete the process on time and with due diligence – leaving no stone unturned.

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3 Reasons Why Incident Reports In Maintenance & Other Industries Important?

  1. Almost a Near Miss – These incidents signify any "near miss" incident where an employee almost got any life-altering or serious physical harm. The same concept applies to machinery and daily equipment at employees' disposal.
  2. Incidents, Accidents & More – Any unexpected accident that might happen out of the blue falls under this category. The same goes for harm to employees' physical well-being, personal property, etc.
  3. Hazardous But No Harm Incident – Whenever a hazard is a direct or indirect result of something intentional vs. unintentional, the incident report generally classifies the action under this category. These scenarios are also classified as" No Harm Events."

In the long run, a squeaky clean and detailed incident report helps to send out a message that your organization is safety and policy compliant.

Read More: OSHA Compliance and Labor Incident Report Policies

What Are The 6 Aspects of Incident Report Writing?

  1. Description of injuries occurring as a result of an on-site accident
  2. Date and time of the incident, whenever something happened
  3. Clear, precise, and to-the-point description of the incident
  4. If there were any witnesses involved, what were their names, etc.?
  5. Name of the person or persons that were part of the incident
  6. Location, where the incident occurred, and vice versa

The above is the very 'basic' level information of incident report writing rules. When you or your supervisor fills out an incident report, the details mentioned above cannot be skipped over. Period.

Other than that, ensure that the incident report filing process starts as soon as possible. The longer anyone waits to file such reports, the more the details get hazy as memories start to bog down with other distractions daily.

Five Rules of Incident Report Writing That Every Person Should Follow

Here are the 5 most crucial incident report writing rules for concerned individuals in any company:

1. Accessibility

Incident reporting isn't only for supervisors. With an iron-clad incident report writing process, many companies have set up a portal where everyone can access the information on a whim. Confidentiality factor aside, if the incident report variants are general, the details should be available to any existing or new incoming member of the organization.

Some factors or aspects that contribute to this dilemma are appended below:

  • Is a photo or evidence required when filing an incident report on behalf of a user?
  • Is there a company-wide URL or an app where people can access the incident reporting portal?
  • If the records are maintained in a physical form, where's the exact location of that book or journal?

2. Awareness

Next up, on the topic of the five rules of incident report writing, we've got the awareness aspect going on.

If your company has set up an incident reporting system, is it made public and known to everyone? A lot of times, many employees do not know of such systems until it is too late. For new employees, supervisors need to ensure that such information is relayed during the onboarding process.

Similarly, what would be the dynamics of incident reporting should an accident happen out of nowhere?

Consider the following scenario:

  • A random visitor walks into your company, slips, and falls over on the floor. The floor was recently polished/ cleaned, and someone forgot to put up the 'Caution: Floor Wet' sign.

Luckily, a company employee witnesses the entire incident and wishes to report it. Who should they report it to, and what's the process for filing this incident report? Is everything made clear in advance for such employees in case such incidents occur out of nowhere?

3. Relevancy

Incident reports have different functions to cater to individual requirements. One person's tenacity to file an incident report on vehicle damage differs from someone's requirement to file an incident report on personal injury.

Also, ensure that the following areas are covered when addressing the relevancy issue of incident reporting:

  • The organization in charge of setting up incident report policies needs to ensure that individual-level requirements are met.
  • The reports need to be relevant to the type of incidents that have occurred in the past and are likely to occur in the near future.
  • Proper hierarchy needs to be there in case the incident needs to be reported up the food chain.

4. Training

The 4th aspects of the 'what are the five rules of incident report writing are about training everyone about incident reporting protocols and policies.

Especially if you are the person who created the system or you were part of the process when such systems were being set up, ensure that there are substantial training elements available to existing and incoming employees.

Simple things, like how to report any incident, are what matter the most. Classroom training sessions, e-guides on how to report an incident and file an incident report, newsletters, and memos go a long way to solidifying the training process.

  • Many companies have monthly training sessions for everyone just to jog memories and keep everyone on the same page.
  • A backup person needs to be available in case the primary designated individual responsible for processing the incident reporting portal is away on holiday and vice versa.
  • Is there any personalized incident reporting features available to people in your company?

5. Incident Report Policy Updates

Incident reporting is a constantly evolving process that changes in nature as the company grows in size.

Especially when there are MNCs with worldwide branches, incident report writing may differ from region to region, as per the local government policies in that area.

The same concept applies to processes that are subject to change when local laws and policies change. The designated department's job is to ensure that the incident report filing process and policies are up to date and current to the latest ongoing referendum outside of the business spectrum.

What Are The Legal Considerations Of Incident Report Writing?

Depending on the nature of the incident, outside organizations, such as police and investigating authorities, may need to be involved from time to time. Under such prevailing circumstances, the incident report writing and filing need to be subject to such legal considerations so that the system itself isn't working in a silo.

Should there be courts involved in the investigation or incident report processes, the company should clearly mention that the incident report is about any of the following aspects, which can be accessed for later use:

  • On-site assault
  • Physical injury to a person or property
  • Imminent death due to accident
  • Destruction of valuable property
  • Other incidents, such as; theft, robbery, etc.
  • Disruptive situations, such as; disease outbreak
  • Illness(es)

Many organizations are more than likely to play it safe by going over the interior and exterior aspects of incident report filing rules. They stick with one policy, i.e., 'Better safe today than being sorry later.' We think that in order to avoid any legal implications due to a potential lack of policy, the incident report system needs to be thorough and up to date from time to time.

Best Tool For Creating Incident Report Checklist(s)

Xenia is a lightweight on-demand SaaS tool that centralizes everything there is to frontline workforce management.

Checklists are an integral part of Xenia App. They're part of a brand new feature-set that allows app users to download a multitude of checklist templates from the Xenia website and upload those to in-app workspaces.

What's even better is the ability to create custom checklists to ensure that anyone can personalize the checklist as per their individual business requirements.

You can create a master checklist for incident reporting through Xenia. Doing so will enable you to cover the following incident report writing areas without hassle.

  1. Fail, Pass system to ensure that the checklist goes through the supervisor's final approval before it's shared across your company
  2. Ability to create and append subsets of checklist variables
  3. Minor-level details, such as uploading photos to support any claim in an incident report
  4. Ease of use across your company
  5. 24/7 accessibility of checklists and other vital data due to cloud data security and retrievability aspect
  6. A person directly involved in the incident can create incident report checklists without any help

The overall workforce management playground is going digital by the day. Incident reports are crucial to on-site personnel safety and well-being. To that effect, Xenia offers a simplistic solution to fulfill your company's operational requirements, whether they are maintenance-related, incident reports checklist-related, or anything else.

For more details, contact the official support team to get started on streamlining your workflow.

Good luck!

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