11 Ways to Write a Clear Workplace Incident Report

(STL.News) The workplace is a place of serious business, but it is also a place where humor and witticisms can help ease the stress.  Writing an incident report may seem like a cross between filling out forms for your taxes and writing your first college essay on the causes of World War I.  But, as long as you remember to use proper grammar and spelling, we can help you how to write reports and make that paper shine.

1. Keep It Concise

Sometimes employers require unnecessary details on their employees when they report accidents.  You do not need to list every single thing that was damaged (unless strictly relevant).  A simple and concisely written work accident report will suffice.  For example, “I accidentally broke the photocopier because my hand slipped” would be sufficient.

2. Cut the Jargon

Get to the point!  An overly complicated incident reporting will just confuse your reviewer, even if you are very knowledgeable about what happened. Being brief and precise will save everyone’s time in the long run. Keep it simple.  “I accidentally sat down on top of a very sharp ceramic pot” is better than “While taking my afternoon dump, the spinning toilet rotated further than anticipated, causing me to get stuck.”

3. Be Specific

You do not have to describe every single detail for us when you’re asked to define an incident.  Give us enough information so that we can understand exactly what happened to you or your co-worker(s).  No one cares how many colors of paint were splattered on the wall when someone accidentally spilled some paint.

4. Give Your Report Structure

If you are writing an incident report for your employer, make sure to follow the structure they have provided (if any).  If you do not know what to say or write, use our handy guide to help you out!

It only takes a few minutes to look at our incident report templates before writing yours.

5. Ensure Any Estimates are Accurate

So you broke your foot when spring cleaning?  Well, that sounds awesome.  But be accurate with how it happened because no one wants their claims rejected over being three inches off with your estimate of where the shelf was positioned that you fell into.  The better way of saying it would have been, “I tripped over a broken IKEA shelf.”

6. Avoid Jargon

This one may seem contradictory to the previous rule. Still, acronyms and industry buzzwords can confuse readers outside of your business sector.  For example, the term “10K under” means something very different in the insurance industry than it does when referring to stock trading.  If you are not sure that your audience understands what you are writing about, avoid using them in your report!

7. Be Unbiased

Don’t let emotion dictate how you write an incident report.  Objectivity is critical if legal action needs to be taken or if people present do not understand what really happened.  Of course, sometimes it can be hard not to take any blame or responsibility when it is clearly your fault, but allow those involved to decide what happened and do not make it appear as if you are trying to shift the blame onto someone else.

8. Be Clear

We all know how frustrating it can be to read an incident report that makes absolutely no sense; is this your first time writing one?  If so, we would like to help you out by telling you that it is important to think about what you want to say (and how) without confusing your reader.  Also, try using our helpful grammar and spelling checker before submitting your report!

9. Keep It Positive

Remember that even though the incident may have been a mistake on your part, there was likely some sort of lesson you can learn from it.  If there was not, it might be time to quit before you hurt yourself again!  So rather than focusing on how this mistake could have been prevented or what went wrong, concentrate on how you will carry out specific processes in the future, so something similar does not happen again.

10. Consider Using Photos

Photos are handy when reporting an accident because they can help explain your story better.  Make sure to include any photos related to the incident in your report!  You do not need to have every photo you took while writing your report, but just keep some of the best ones handy.

11. Be Clear and Consistent

Your boss might ask for clarification.  If this happens, make sure you answer any questions they have as concisely and clearly as you can.  For example, use a phrase such as “I am not sure if this is correct or not, but it seems to be” instead of saying something vague like “the report may be inaccurate.”  If the issue has been resolved with your employer, use our checklists to ensure you have covered everything, so there are no discrepancies in your report!

This is definitely the easiest part about an incident report: not having to worry about creating one from scratch!  Pre-made templates are available, with some of them free to use!  Check out Venngage, a web-based design solution that allows for stress-free incident report creation.  Try it for yourself here!