3 Tips For An Effective & Thorough Incident Report

3 tips for an effective Incident Report

What else can you do to proactively build a culture of safety?

One of the areas worth revisiting is your incident investigation and reporting process.

You never want a close-call or incident to happen, but if it does, what you do afterwards can help you discover shortcomings in your safety and health program.

Knowing that your investigation is what will shape your findings, here are 3 key tips to lead to a thorough incident report:

Tip 1: Immediate Response

How fast your organization is able to respond to an incident can tell you a lot about how prepared you were!

First steps will include notifying emergency responders and ensuring anyone who is injured or ill is taken care of. Once the site is fully secured, it’s imperative that a proper investigation takes place in a timely manner. In general, the more quickly you can collect data, the more useful it will be and the more “honest” that data will be.

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Tip 2: Open-Ended Interviewing

So many facts can be captured during the interviewing phase of your investigation. Aim for your interviews to take place in a private, quiet area.

You want to be able to state the purpose behind your interviews and you can explain that it’s not about fault-finding.

Every incident will be different, and the questions that you will need to ask will vary. This list is not comprehensive, but here is an example of certain questions you might ask:

  • Questions about time
    • What time did this occur?
    • What day of the week?
    • Was this person working overtime or…?
    • How long had this person been on this job site/project?
  • Questions about who
    • Who was injured?
    • Who else witnessed the incident?
    • Who trained them?
    • Who supervised them?
    • Who first reported the incident?
  • Questions about location
    • Where did this happen?
    • Where was the victim when this happened?
    • Where were the witnesses?
  • Questions about what happened
    • How would you describe what happened?
    • What was the victim doing at the time of the incident?
    • What was the victim doing immediately prior to the incident?
  • Questions about PPE
    • Was PPE Required for this job?
    • What kind of PPE was required?
    • Does it appear to you the PPE was adequate for this role?
    • Could PPE have been a contributing factor in any way to this incident? (2)

With a focus on causal factors, don’t forget to ask the witness what they think could have prevented the incident. Try to get as much information as you can about procedures and other historical information that would be relevant to the current incident.

After you interview the witness or victim, be sure to thank them for their time. Anything you can do to reduce fear and to keep morale high will go a long way.

Tip 3: Effective Data Analysis

Your report is critical because it shares how and why something went wrong. But just as important, the report details the specific actions that will take place to ensure the same situations won’t happen again.

In other words, you’re using the information you’ve collected to improve the safety for workers in the future…so the analysis to get to that point is key!

Another way of thinking about it: even if you’ve collected a great deal of data from a variety of sources, if you can’t analyze that information, all that data isn’t going to be as beneficial as it could be in determining primary, secondary, and other contributing factors.

Organize information in a way that recounts the incident, typically in a step-by-step fashion. Then include all your facts and supporting evidence in a clear and concise manner so that anyone reading the report could also come to the same conclusion(s).

You want clear conclusions, but you also want to be sure you have all your backup documentation to support your findings and the corrective actions that you recommend (1, 2).

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No matter if they are in the office or in the field, iReportSource gives leaders a guided way to follow an effective accident reporting process.

Learn more about becoming more proactive with iReportSource today.


  1. https://safetymanagementgroup.com/the-seven-steps-of-a-thorough-accident-investigation
  2. https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy11/sh-22246-11/IncidentInvestigationGuide.pdf

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