Many business workers cringe when faced with an incident report. These pieces of writings can have long reaching effects on a company, its employees, and its clients or customers. The writer might fear that they will leave out important information, or mislead the reader towards a faulty conclusion. Incident reports do not need to be a source of stress. Learning how to master neutrality and professionalism will make these assignments a breeze.
The Incident Report’s Audience
Even seemingly inconsequential incident reports can find themselves intermingled with court cases or insurance affairs. This is especially true for medical incident reports or security incident reports. No matter what kind of situation is being reported, it is important to write as if the words could reach an limitless audience. Don’t assume the boss will carelessly skim the words before sticking them in a folder indefinitely. The writer should write in a professional tone, only report what he knows for a fact, and be prepared to answer to his words in public or private settings if asked.
Staying Neutral in an Incident Report
The potential importance of a incident report calls for neutral, factual wording. The writer should constantly ask himself several questions, such as: “Is this an assumption?” and “Is this an opinion?” A neutral report avoids personal interpretations. Instead of writing “Susan called the police because Joe was angry and violent,” a security incident report could say “Susan called the police because she thought Joe appeared unstable and upset.”
An accident incident report should avoid using language that invokes sympathy, nor should the words pass judgment, even if the writer believes the accident was a result of poor decision making. The report writer’s only job is to organize the facts so that future readers can assess the situation as needed from an unbiased source.
The Incident Report’s Time Frame
The most accurate and effective incident reports are written as soon as the accident, security breach, or other serious incident occurs. The sooner a report is written, the more details will be correctly remembered. All incident reports should be written within 24 hours, and the report should never be pushed aside until after a weekend or holiday.
If a situation occurs, the witnesses should jot down as many notes as possible if they do not have time to fill out an official incident form immediately. Memories can fade or change as time progresses.
What to Include in an Incident Report
The most important questions to answer in the report are who, what, where, when, why and how. Before filing away an incident report, the writer needs to confirm that each of these questions has been thoroughly answered.
When writing an accident or medical incident report, the writer should be thorough in explaining what happened immediately before the crisis, and how the accident was handled afterwards. Give details on if the hurt person was moved or medically treated in any way. If paramedics arrive, collect their names to include in the report.
Security incident reports should report names and badge numbers of any police officers or security personnel involved. The writer might also want to ask for expert opinions from these professionals. Quotes can be included in the report.
All incident reports should list the names of people involved, even if their involvement is minimal. This includes all observers and witnesses.
Creating an Incident Reporting System
Most businesses will benefit from having a set incident reporting system in place. Employees might want to suggest creating a standard incident report form or adding company-specific guidelines to the employee handbook. Implementing a permanent system will guide both new and old workers to supply all the necessary information when writing a report. Standard incident report rules and questions might be easier to remember on a calm afternoon rather than in the aftermath of an emergency.
Companies that file incident reports on a regular basis might benefit by investing in incident reporting software. These programs will ensure that writers answer all the basic questions, and they will keep all the reports organized, legible and easily accessible. Whether a company chooses incident report software, or simply creates their own incident report forms, implementing a system will help produce clearer and more efficient reports. Either employees or business owners can take the initiative and create a form or system today.