How to Write an Incident Report at Work

Accidents happen, even at work. However, how you handle them and prevent similar incidents from happening again can make a big difference. 

Writing an incident report is one way to ensure that. 

Knowing how to file an incident report is important whether you’ve witnessed a slip and fall or experienced a malfunctioning piece of equipment firsthand. A detailed incident report will protect you and your colleagues and help your workplace create a safer environment for everyone.

We’ll cover everything you need about risk identification and creating a compelling work incident report. We’ll also explain what information to include and how to structure your report. You’ll also find helpful tips and resources to document everything accurately.

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What Is an Incident Report?

An incident report is a critical document in any workplace, serving as the official record of an unforeseen event. Consider it a comprehensive record or a risk assessment template capturing the incident’s who, what, when, why, and how.

Let’s consider an incident report example: Say a kitchen staff member suffers a burn from hot oil while frying food. The incident report will document the exact date, time, and location of the spill and detail the events leading up to the incident, including refilling the fryer or reaching for a utensil. 

The report will clearly state the severity of the injury and any first aid provided. It’ll investigate potential causes, such as a malfunctioning fryer handle or incorrect oil temperature. This information becomes a vital tool for preventing similar incidents from happening again.

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Understanding the Incident Report

Incident reporting or incident management is essential in ensuring workplace safety. It’s formally documenting any unexpected event that could have resulted in injury, property damage, or disruption.  

What is an incident in the context of occupational safety?

In occupational safety, an incident refers to any unplanned event that arises in the workplace and can potentially cause harm. 

The critical aspect is the potential for harm. Even with no immediate injury or damage, an incident highlights a potential safety risk that needs attention. This proactive approach allows organizations to address issues before they escalate into serious accidents.

Why report incidents: The purpose of incident reporting

Effective incident reporting is the backbone of any robust health and safety program. Here’s why every organization must take action:

  • Preventive measure: Incident reports are goldmines for identifying and fixing safety issues before they snowball into major accidents
  • Cost-saving mechanism: Prompt reporting saves time, money, and resources that would otherwise be spent dealing with serious accidents and their aftermath
  • Safety for all: A strong reporting culture prioritizes the well-being of everyone in the organization by creating a safer work environment
  • Compliance regulations: Regular incident reporting ensures your organization stays compliant with health and safety regulations, avoiding costly penalties
  • Track trends: Reporting helps identify patterns and anomalies in incidents, allowing for targeted improvements in safety protocols

Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. Make incident reporting a routine practice in your organization today!

The difference between an incident report and a police report

While incident and police reports document events, their purposes and uses differ significantly. There is a large spectrum in which some incidents may require a police report, and some may not. This table provides a clear breakdown of the key differences between these vital documents:

FeatureIncident reportPolice report
PurposeDocuments unexpected events in the workplace, focusing on safety and preventing future occurrencesDocuments crimes or potential crimes, focusing on gathering evidence for legal action
Who filesEmployees, supervisors, or safety personnelLaw enforcement officers or the person affected by the crime
ContentDetails of the incident, including date, time, location, people involved, the incident, and problem statement of the causeDescription of the crime, including date, time, location, suspects, victim information, witness statements, and evidence collected
ConfidentialityIt may be confidential within the organization, depending on the severity of the incidentPublic record, unless there are specific exceptions
UseUsed to improve workplace safety, identify trends, and comply with regulationsUsed for criminal investigations, prosecution, and insurance claims
TriggerAny unplanned event with the potential to cause harm, even near misses or property damageOnly for crimes or suspected crimes
Follow upCorrective actions are implemented to prevent similar incidentsThis may lead to arrests, charges, and court proceedings

Both employees and employers must know the difference between these reports. Incident reports are vital for creating a safe work environment, while police reports are essential for addressing potential criminal activity. 

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The Benefits and Importance of Incident Reporting

Incident reporting isn’t just about paperwork; it’s a powerful tool for building a safer workplace. Let’s explore how and why it’s crucial. 

Boosting health and safety at the workplace

Forget chance encounters—safety thrives on vigilance!

Incident reporting isn’t a passive box-ticking exercise. Every reported incident—from a near-miss to a minor slip-up—helps make the work environment safer.

Its benefits extend far beyond avoiding disaster. Incident reporting creates a culture of safety where employees can speak up about potential hazards. 

Open communication is vital—after all, who knows the day-to-day challenges better than the people on the front lines? By taking every incident seriously and investigating thoroughly, organizations genuinely commit to employee well-being.

Incident reporting strengthens an organization’s legal standing, too. By maintaining a comprehensive record of reported incidents, employers can show they’re actively managing safety risks and adhering to health and safety regulations. This avoids costly penalties and positions the organization as a responsible employer, attracting top talent.

Contribution to continuous improvement of processes and systems

Effective incident reporting drives continuous improvement in safety processes and systems. It goes beyond mere documentation; it’s a powerful tool fueled by objective language that sheds light on potential weaknesses.

Every reported incident, big or small, becomes a data point. Organizations can pinpoint areas where safety protocols might be lacking by analyzing trends. This raises awareness among management and the investigation team, prompting a deeper dive into potential hazards. 

Incident data allows for a laser focus on the most critical areas. For example, a safety officer armed with reports highlights repetitive near-misses with a specific piece of equipment. They can then advocate for improved maintenance procedures or equipment upgrades. 

The investigation team doesn’t simply analyze; they act. Incident reports inform process reviews and revisions. Maybe a particular workflow needs to be adjusted to minimize worker exposure to a certain hazard, or perhaps additional training is required for a specific task. Organizations can continuously refine processes by learning from past incidents.

Now that you know the benefits, importance, and other details of incident reporting, let’s examine how to file one. 

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How to Write an Incident Report

Filling out an incident report isn’t just about filling in blanks—it’s about creating a clear and valuable record for future safety improvements. 

An ideal incident report form will look something like this:

Elements of a good incident report

Understanding the crucial details you need to gather allows you to write a valuable factual report. Here’s your essential checklist:

  • Lock down the basics—the location, exact time, and incident date. This becomes vital if further investigation is required
  • Describe the physical and environmental conditions that might have played a role. Include any potential hazards present in the area
  • List the names of everyone involved, their job titles or positions, and their departments
  • Be specific. Detail the type of injury, its severity, and the body parts affected
  • Capture statements from people who witnessed the incident. Their perspectives are valuable
  • Document any initial treatment, first aid administered, or medications given to the injured person(s) for tracking employee recovery
  • Assess and report on any damage to assets, materials, facilities, or equipment during the incident
  • Narrate the incident chronologically, detailing the sequence of events that led to its occurrence
  • Describe the actions of everyone involved at the exact time the incident happened

A well-documented incident report is a powerful tool for building a safer workplace for everyone.

The basic format of an incident report

Here’s a breakdown of a foolproof format that ensures transparent, objective reporting every time. 

The key is factual information—written in the third person to state facts and omit any biases or opinions:

  • Who’s who: List everyone involved in the incident. If names aren’t available, use their role (e.g., customer, guest)
  • The incident: Summarize the event in three concise sentences
  • Time and place: Pinpoint the exact date and time of the occurrence. If unsure of the precise time, provide an estimate. Location is crucial—be as specific as possible (e.g., Mercato Conference Room, 19th floor, Building A)
  • Chronological clarity: Narrate the incident from start to finish, ensuring details flow chronologically. Maintain focus on the who, what, when, and where you established in the introduction
  • Conclude properly: Clearly state whether the incident was resolved. If not, explain why and outline the necessary steps to achieve a resolution
  • Accountability matters: Include your full name and signature to demonstrate accountability and maintain accurate record-keeping

But don’t let workplace incidents become a record-keeping nightmare. We’ve got a perfect tool to file an incident report. ClickUp’s Workplace Incident Report Template captures and documents vital details efficiently. 

You just need to fill in the necessary information; the template will handle the rest of the process! 

Fill up the information for each section, sign off, and send it to the authorities responsible with the ready-to-use ClickUp Workplace Incident Report Template

 Here’s how it elevates your incident reporting:

  • Guarantees precise and uniform reporting of all occurrences
  • Offers insight into the fundamental safety concerns
  • Enables swifter action when dealing with incidents
  • Establishes a documented history for legal and regulatory purposes

Let’s now understand all the steps you must take while writing an incident report.

1. Gather fundamental information about the incident

Don’t waste time sifting through details—gather the essentials first! Here’s how to kick off your incident report:

  • Specify the type and severity of injuries and define if they are fatal or non-fatal
  • Assess any property damage that occurred
  • Pinpoint the exact date, time, and location of the incident
  • Describe the task being performed at the time of the incident
  • Find out what the environment was like: too hot or too cold or a rainy day 
  • Add photos or annotations at the end as further evidence

By gathering these fundamental details upfront, you’ll lay a solid foundation for your incident report, allowing you to narrate the events that unfolded.

2. Analyze and reflect

Now, narrate the incident step by step. Take your time here; comprehensive details matter.  Consider writing in a clear third-person account, including all surrounding information. This ensures accuracy when explaining what happened. Remember, strive for clarity and conciseness—reviewing staff needs to understand the sequence of events.

After describing the events, delve into the ‘why.’ Look at potential contributing factors. Was it a workspace obstacle or faulty equipment? Be honest and analyze all aspects of the occurrence to identify every factor. 

Take accountability for your role, if any, and explain clearly. Transparency and truthful reporting are essential for organizational analysis and preventing similar incidents.

3. Identify affected individuals and take notes of damages or injuries

Unveil the incident’s impact—did it cause injury or property damage? Be clear and assertive—a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is crucial. If someone was injured, provide a detailed description of the injury’s severity.  For property damage, include photos as evidence—a picture is worth a thousand words.

Now, let’s delve deeper. Identify everyone involved: names, job titles, shifts, and relevant details. Next, gather statements from witnesses who were present during the incident. These accounts are invaluable for piecing together the sequence of events.

Witness statements can clarify whether the injured employee’s actions contributed to the incident or offer another perspective. Note their statements verbatim or paraphrase for clarity. Always obtain witness signatures to verify the accuracy of their accounts. 

4. Establish a corrective action plan

An incident report isn’t just about documenting what happened; it’s about the after-action plan. Identify and implement corrective actions that target the root cause of the incident. 

Outline any actions needed to finalize the report itself. This ensures all necessary steps are documented for a complete and accurate record. By taking these actions, you’re not just closing the book on this incident but actively building a safer work environment for everyone.

5. Close the incident report

Don’t let typos or factual errors cloud your report’s message! After completing your incident report, take the time to proofread it thoroughly. Double-check factual accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and overall clarity. Remember, your report needs to be crystal clear and easy to understand for everyone involved.

Once your report is polished to perfection, submit it to the appropriate recipient—your department manager, director, supervisor, or HR contact responsible for handling incident reports.  

Be prepared to answer any questions your supervisor might have after reviewing the report.  If submitting electronically or by mail, take the initiative and follow up with a phone call within 10 days. 

Incident reporting has two sides: learning to file one and responding to an incident report. Let’s explore the latter process more.

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How to Respond to an Incident Report

Responding to an incident report involves acknowledging the report, investigating the incident, and taking steps to prevent similar incidents from happening again. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

  • Acknowledge the report: Thank the employee for reporting the incident. This shows appreciation for their willingness to come forward and helps create a safety culture. Let them know you’ve received the report and are reviewing it
  • Investigate the incident: Gather more information if needed. This might involve interviewing the involved parties and witnesses or reviewing security footage. Analyze the root cause of the incident
  • Take corrective actions: Depending on the severity of the incident, corrective actions might include:
  • Implementing new safety procedures or updating existing ones
  • Providing additional training for employees
  • Taking disciplinary action, if necessary
  • Follow-up: Inform the employee(s) involved about the outcome of the investigation and any corrective actions taken. Monitor the situation to ensure the corrective actions are effective in preventing similar incidents

Regardless of severity, every incident is an opportunity to improve workplace safety. Not everyone knows how to respond appropriately, so a ready-to-use incident communication plan can prove effective. 

Incidents are inevitable, but communication breakdowns during these critical times can be disastrous. ClickUp’s Incident Communication Plan Template lets you craft a clear and effective strategy, ensuring everyone stays informed. 

Create an effective communication strategy for your team with the ClickUp Incident Communication Plan Template

This template helps you

  • Establish designated channels for clear and efficient communication during incidents
  • Develop detailed action plans with specific roles and responsibilities assigned. Everyone knows their part, ensuring a swift and coordinated response
  • Outline clear procedures for keeping stakeholders informed about the progress of the incident’s resolution. Transparency builds trust and fosters a sense of control during challenging situations

This template provides a clear communication plan to minimize disruption and quickly get your operations back on track.

You’ve learned how to file an incident report and respond to it aptly. Now, let’s look into things you must avoid in such a process. 

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Incident Reporting Mistakes to Avoid

Incident reports are crucial to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. However, even the best intentions can be undermined by common mistakes.  

This guide highlights key errors to avoid when filing an incident report:

  • Ignoring or delaying reporting: Every big or small incident should be reported. Ignoring or delaying reporting can worsen the situation and make it harder to investigate the root cause
  • Incomplete or inaccurate information: Ensure your report includes all the essential details—date, time, location, what happened, and who was involved. Strive for factual accuracy and avoid speculation
  • Omitting witness statements: Witness accounts offer valuable insights into the sequence of events. Gather statements from anyone who witnessed the incident to gain a well-rounded perspective
  • Focusing on blame: The goal of an incident report is to understand what happened and prevent future occurrences, not to assign blame. Focus on the facts and avoid accusatory language
  • Skipping proofreading: Typos and factual errors can cloud the message of your report. Take the time to proofread for accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and overall clarity
  • Not taking corrective action: Don’t let the report gather dust! Use the information to identify and implement corrective actions that prevent similar incidents from happening again
  • Failing to follow up: If you’re injured, follow up with a doctor to ensure proper treatment and document any medical care received. For serious incidents, follow up with the appropriate authorities to ensure a proper investigation is conducted

Let’s examine some use cases for incident reporting and some tools that can help in such situations. 

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Incident Report Samples and Examples

Incidents are a part of every industry. In the media and entertainment industry, workplace harassment or an accident on the set can be termed an incident. In a hospital, wrong medicines administered or doctors operating under the influence can be called an incident. 

Let’s examine use cases, examples, and incident reporting templates to understand situations in a particular industry! 

1. Security and compliance in IT

Security incidents are any events that compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organization’s data, systems, or assets.

These incidents can range from minor inconveniences to major breaches and are caused by various factors, such as malicious attacks, accidental errors, system vulnerabilities, and insider threats.

Here’s a scenario where a security incident report would be used:

An employee receives a suspicious email that appears to be from their bank. The email urges them to click a link to verify their account information. The employee clicks on the link, which takes them to a fake website that looks identical to their bank’s login page. The employee enters their username and password, unknowingly giving the attacker access to their bank account.

The ClickUp Security Incident Report Template can help you when such an incident occurs.

Creating a security incident report helps you document the details of a security incident, including the date, time, and type of incident, as well as the individuals involved. 

Quickly document and manage security incidents with the ClickUp Security Incident Report Template

Here are six ways to help you create a security incident report using the cybersecurity risk management framework within the template:

  • Gather all the relevant information, such as the date of the incident, the type of incident (e.g., data breach, phishing attack), the individuals involved, and any other details that could be relevant. Use ClickUp Docs to keep track of all the necessary information
  • Create the security incident report using the table view like a spreadsheet program. Start by entering the date of the incident, the type of incident, and the individuals involved
  • Create Custom Fields to add specific details relevant to your organization’s needs
  • Based on your report findings, assign tasks to the appropriate team members—investigation and security protocol updates
  • Schedule recurring reviews to update your report as new information emerges, keeping you ahead of potential threats
  • Set up milestones to monitor progress on security protocols and campaigns, ensuring continuous improvement

Employee-related incidents cover workplace events that could lead to injury, property damage, or a violation of company policy.

Some specific examples include safety violations, negligence, work environment issues, ergonomic issues, workplace harassment or violence, security breaches, and delays in filing documentation. 

When any kind of incident occurs to an employee, they must fill out an employee incident report form. Use the ClickUp Employee Incident Report Template, add it to your workspace, and get started. 

Simplify the process of creating detailed reports in an organized and easy-to-access format with the ClickUp Employee Incident Report Template

Here’s how you can use this template to facilitate the entire process:

  • Create a dedicated project for each incident report, keeping everything organized and easy to find
  • Work with stakeholders to ensure accurate and comprehensive recording of incident details
  • Organize reports into clear categories, allowing you to effortlessly track progress and identify trends
  • Set up notifications to stay on top of new and updated reports, ensuring you’re always in the loop
  • Schedule regular meetings to discuss reports and address any potential issues before they escalate
  • Monitor and analyze reports to identify areas for improvement and optimize your incident reporting process for maximum efficiency

3. Medical incident reporting in hospitals

In hospitals, medical incident reporting is a crucial system for documenting and investigating any unexpected event that could have resulted in or did result in harm to a patient, staff member, or visitor.

Medication errors, wrongful death, complaints about doctors, workplace violence or harassment, surgical errors, hospital-acquired infections, falls, and near misses are some examples of medical incidents. 

Anyone who witnesses or is involved in a medical incident must report it. This includes doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, patients, and family members.

Use ClickUp Brains’s AI Incident Report Generator and its project and task management solutions to generate incident reports for any industry or department and comply with necessary regulations. 

This innovative tool simplifies incident reporting by transforming essential details—date, location, involved parties, and the incident—into comprehensive reports in a flash.  

Advanced algorithms analyze the data you provide, pinpointing key factors and organizing everything into a structured, easy-to-read format. With consistent, thorough documentation for every incident, you can save valuable time on manual report writing.  

You benefit from improved incident management, enhanced communication, and a clear path to regulatory compliance.

If you want to create an action plan to prevent incidents, ClickUp’s Incident Action Plan Template can help you get started!

Coordinate actions, ensure that they complement incident objectives, and give incident management a structure with the ClickUp Incident Action Plan Template

Don’t let incidents throw your operations into chaos. Here’s how this template can help you:

  • Organize and coordinate your entire incident response team—everyone’s on the same page from the very start
  • Break down complex tasks into manageable lists, ensuring swift delegation and resolution
  • Provide clear and concise instructions for each step of the incident response process—no confusion, just efficient action

It’s better to have a team for incident response once an incident is reported. For this, the team members must take on incident report training.

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Importance of Incident Report Training

Equip your employees with the skills they need to be active participants in workplace safety.  Incident report training goes beyond basic awareness—it’s a practical series of lessons that allows your workforce to

  • Get clarity on what triggers a report, ensuring nothing is ambiguous 
  • Learn the essential details to include—date, time, location, description of events, witnesses—for thorough and informative reports
  • Become confident in reporting incidents quickly, allowing for prompt investigation and resolution

Now, let’s dive into how to train your staff:

  • Include interactive elements like role-playing scenarios, case studies, and group discussions to engage learners
  • Use clear and informative visuals like presentations, diagrams, and flowcharts to enhance understanding and retention
  • Use relevant real-world examples from your industry or workplace to make the training relatable and impactful
  • Provide practical exercises where staff can practice documenting different types of incidents in a safe, controlled environment
  • Offer refresher courses and ongoing support to ensure staff retain key concepts and best practices

With all the information and tools covered till now, you can start filing incident reports confidently!

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Write Incident Reports Efficiently with the Right Tools

Incident reporting isn’t about pointing fingers but learning and growing. You gain insights to prevent future occurrences and cultivate a safety culture by capturing valuable data.  

However, effective reporting requires the right tools. With ClickUp, you can easily file incident reports using the pre-built templates or the AI-powered incident report generator, monitor progress, and commit to making your workplace safe and healthy.

Sign up on ClickUp today!

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