There are so many different types of accidents, incidents, and near misses that can happen in the workplace. Sometimes it is unclear at what point should an incident report be completed. This is especially the case when there are various legal requirements for incident reporting beyond the internal company rules. Generally, you should complete an incident report whenever an unexpected occurrence causes property damage or personal injury. You may also complete an incident report in other cases where a hazard is present, an incident occurred but did not cause damages or injury, a security breach happens, or to report workplace misconduct. Basically, any incident that you would like to have a record of, determine the cause, or prevent from happening again. However, the most important thing to remember is that an incident report is necessary even if the injury is minor.
Why Are Incident Reports so Important?
Incident reports are an essential component of your safety culture. They allow employees to confidently report hazards or incidents. Additionally, they ensure you have the necessary data to create a plan of corrective and preventive action. This immediate action, even for small incidents, can lead to the prevention of big incidents or accidents. In industries that rely on equipment and tools that bring a higher element of risk, prevention and communication are valuable ingredients of a well-rounded safety plan. Incident reports are at the foundation of all of this as it provides the data that fuels your safety initiatives. Furthermore, incident reports bring things to your attention that you may not have known about. They can also help you recognize processes that have room for improvement.
What Incidents Should You Report?
- Accidents and Incidents – any unexpected event that results in personal injury, illness, death, and/or property damage. Even if the injury is minor, you must report it to have a record of the event in case the injury worsens. This includes employee injury incidents, third party/non-employee injury incidents, environmental incidents, fire, vehicle or equipment incidents, etc.
- Near Misses – a near miss is an incident where an employee or employees narrowly avoided personal injury.
- No Harm Event – this is an unexpected occurrence where a hazard was present, and you would like to use it as an example to raise awareness and prevent any potential future events.
Incident Report Best Practices
With all of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations on incident reporting, it can be a tedious and stressful process to keep track of. Today, technology can provide support in remaining compliant with OSHA or any other regulatory agency. Redlist’s Health Safety & Environmental (HSE) mobile app allows you to create custom incident report forms and automate many steps of your safety reporting process. When an incident report is submitted, you can configure automatic alerts to certain managers. Also, you can even automate the completion of your OSHA 300 Series forms. Using a mobile app not only streamlines the process and saves you time, but it also provides greater functionality than a paper form. Employees can take photos or videos and attach them right to the incident report via the mobile app.
Configuring your digital incident report form is key to collecting the information you need to investigate an incident. Businesses that rely on generic forms, such as the ones from OSHA, run into the problem that it doesn’t ask for industry-specific information that you need. Additionally, with an app, you can include a reminder checklist of things to keep in mind when an employee is filling out an incident report. This reminder can include encouragement to proofread the report before hitting submit to ensure data accuracy, stick to the facts not opinions, or even a checklist that helps employees decide whether or not to complete an incident report.
Remember: When in Doubt, Fill it Out.
That’s a simple rule to live by with incident reporting. It’s far better to have an incident report and not need it than to need it and not have it. The safety manager or team assigned to investigate incidents can best determine if an incident warrants further action. Often, even minor incidents lead to improvements in training or communication of workplace hazards. So, when wondering at what point should an incident report be completed: When in doubt, fill it out!