Follow this simple incident report writing format

When workplace incidents occur, it’s important to document them as soon as you can. The easiest way to do that is to have a standard outline for each report. That way, you can avoid missing details. Use this simple incident report writing format to produce high-quality reports for all types of events.

Free form!

Download this free incident report form to follow the format laid out in this blog post.

Details regarding affected parties

The format I use for writing incident reports starts with any details about people who were victims. I like to include the following pieces of information in this section:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Home address
  • Status (employee, contractor, vendor, visitor)

Of course, if there are no victims or directly affected parties, this section will be blank. But I think it’s important to provide these details up front in case there’s any critical follow-up required (especially in the case of injuries and fatalities).

Full incident details

The next section of your report should include all the basic information regarding the incident. Here’s a list of to provide:

  • Incident date and time
  • Location (building, coordinates, department)
  • Names of witnesses (if applicable)
  • Full incident description
  • Injury description (if applicable)

This is the meat of the report and should be the section you spend the most time writing. You want anyone, from within or outside of the organization, to be able to understand what happened from the details in your incident description.

In most companies, the EHS department writes these reports, but I believe every manager on the floor should also know how to write good descriptions. That’s because safety departments are often small and spread too thin. Having managers who can write quality reports can help unload some of the administrative burdens off the safety team.

Root cause analysis and corrective actions

No incident report is complete without a root cause analysis and list of corrective actions. Most likely, there will be several root causes to address, although you may choose to frame them under the umbrella of a single cause. That’s up to you.

When it comes to the type of analysis you perform, that also can depend on the type of incident. I typically use the 5 why analysis, but you could also use a pareto chart, fishbone diagram, or any other method that applies.

Along with the root cause you should list both the actions you took immediately after arriving at the scene and the ones you plan to take following your investigation. Here are some examples of corrective actions you might implement:

  • Redesign a process or work area
  • Put up new signage
  • Replace or repair a piece of equipment
  • Update your policies or procedures
  • Create or modify your training program

Supplementary information

Sometimes, you need to reference additional documents in your incident report. Once you’ve provided the basic details, you should focus on gathering and attaching relevant supplementary information. Here are some examples of what you might add:

  • Witness statements
  • Photos of the incident scene, injuries, property damage, etc.
  • Video footage of the incident
  • Diagrams of the work area

I would say that most of my incident reports include supporting documents. And it’s definitely something I would advise. The more context you can provide, the better your report and the better your corrective actions.

Report details

The final details you add should be the name of the person who wrote the report, their contact information and signature, and the date. This is just for documentation purposes and to make it easy for readers to get in touch with you if they need more info.

Once you’ve finished your report, you can send it via email to relevant parties. Or, if you use corrective action software, you can automatically send notifications when new reports go on file.

In my experience, the best incident report writing format is simple and to the point. If your reports are well-organized with different sections clearly labeled, they’ll be easy to understand. And that means you, and anyone who reviews your reports, gets more out of the entire documentation process.