As a business or organisation, having an incident reporting procedure and an open communication culture that supports incident reporting is a critical element in upholding health and safety in the workplace.
In this article, we will discuss:
Before we go further, we recommend downloading our free checklist and step-by-step guide to report incidents correctly.
An incident report is an official recording of the facts related to an incident on the worksite. An incident is broadly defined as any event or accident that leads to personnel injury or damage to equipment or property.
Incidents also include events or accidents that have the potential to cause harm, or in other words, near misses.
Here are five reasons why it’s important to report incidents in the workplace and how it can benefit both employees and employers.
1) Prevent more serious accidents
Comprehensive incident reporting can help any business understand what is going wrong or could go wrong regarding workplace safety.
With these insights, an organisation can fix a health and safety issue before it becomes a bigger problem that can cause serious harm or damage to employees or property. As the old adage goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
2) Improve other health & safety measures in the workplace
You can think of incident reporting as something that can improve other health and safety measures in the workplace, such as risk assessments and reporting potential hazards.
Even by complying with all the best risk assessments and hazard reporting procedures with due diligence, incidents can still happen.
It’s like the “Swiss Cheese” model where each health and safety “layer” has its imperfections yet work together to collectively prevent accidents from “going through”.
However, when an accident or near miss does happen, it makes the management aware of how the “holes” of each “layer” (i.e. the health and safety procedures) have created a path for that incident.
Giving this feedback through an incident report can help your company identify the weaknesses or blind spots in your current health and safety procedures as well as risk mitigation solutions. By having this information, you can take proactive steps to improve them.
3) Save time and resources
In their “Health and Safety at Work” 2020 summary statistics report in Great Britain, HSE reported:
Lost time and costs caused by injuries can be reduced with incident reporting because of how incident reporting can help prevent more serious accidents and improve workplace health and safety procedures.
4) Reporting incidents can protect companies
A lack of incident reporting doesn’t just put staff at huge risk. It puts companies at risk too.
Companies in the UK can be penalised with fines and imprisonment if it is found that the incident was caused by a breach of the UK’s health and safety laws.
5) Boost overall well-being
As the cherry on top, having a healthy incident reporting culture in the workplace shows you are committed to your staff’s and customers’ safety, which can improve morale, teamwork, efficiency, productivity, and overall well-being of the organisation and its staff.
Every organisation’s incident reporting procedure should record four types of incidents:
Any unexpected incident, accident, or situation that results in a serious psychological injury or non-fatal and fatal physical injuries to employees or damage to company property. Examples include but are not limited to slips, trips and falls, vehicle accidents, natural disasters, theft, and fire.
Any unexpected incident, accident, or situation that had the potential to cause harm to employees or damage to company property but no harm or damage occurred.
These incidents relate to medicine, vaccines, and medical devices used to treat employees for a medical condition or situation. Any unintended harm caused by the commission of treatment or omission of procedure, instead of harm resulting from the existing disease or condition, must be reported as an incident.
Any risks of potential incidents that can happen in the line of duty must be recorded and communicated to all employees to be aware of the risks and safety measures required to mitigate the risks. Employees must also be able to access these records so they can refer to them at any time.
Additionally, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), employers must also report to the local authorities any RIDDOR reportable injuries.
In general, this regulation covers any work-related injury, illness, poisoning, and dangerous occurrences at work. Specifically, the types of RIDDOR reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences fall into the following categories:
For further details on RIDDOR reportable injuries and the procedures to report them, read our article, What is RIDDOR & How Important is it for UK Organisations?
An internal incident report of near misses or unexpected, adverse or awareness events should be completed as soon as possible after the incident happens or within a reasonable time frame.
By reasonable, it means those involved in or had witnessed the incident or event should still be able to recall the details of what happened with clarity to complete the incident report. As an employer, you may also stipulate a specific reporting time frame in your incident reporting procedures for your staff to adhere to.
On the other hand, RIDDOR reporting timescales will depend on the type of injury or accident. They can range from 10-15 days of the incident or upon receiving a diagnosis from a medical professional.
Before writing an incident report, it’s important to remember the objective of an incident report. Here’s a quick recap:
When you keep the objectives in mind, it becomes easier to evaluate which details are relevant to be included in the report.
Next, it is best to create an incident report template that any employee can easily follow without missing out on important details.
To make things easier, we have prepared a template document, you can download it here.
Your incident report template should include the following sections:
Here’s a sample of what an incident report could look like.
|Type of Incident:|
Aisle F1 of Warehouse A
24 March 2021
|Name of Person(s) Injured or at Risk:|
|Name(s) of Witness:|
|Name of Supervisor:
|Description of injury and/or damage||1) An employee got a concussion and took a 5-day medical leave.
2) Pallets and goods with an estimated value of $16,400 were damaged.
|Description of incident||Mr. Allen was loading the shelves at aisle F1 of Warehouse A with a forklift. That was when the pallet rack collapsed. The impact of the pallet racks and its contents falling on the forklift jolted him forward and caused a concussion.|
|Witness statement||Ms. West stated: I was in aisle G1 and heard a loud crash. I turned and saw the pallets crashing down on the forklift Barry was driving.
Mr. Curry stated: I was beside the forklift helping Barry to direct the loading. That’s when I noticed the top pallets were shaky, but before I could warn Barry, it came crashing down. I ran away in time. The falling boxes just missed me.
|Treatment post-incident||Mr. Allen was conscious and able to talk and walk, although he felt a little dizzy. Given his state, everyone decided it was not necessary to call an ambulance. Ms. West took Mr. Allen to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion and given 5 days medical leave.
The remaining employees in the warehouse carefully removed the rest of the pallets and damaged boxes at the site of the incident under the supervision of Mr. Wayne. After cleaning the area, they catalogued the items damaged and repacked the undamaged items for storage.
|Post-analysis of incident||After investigation, it was found that the pallet racks at the top shelf were loaded with items heavier than the items below. This imbalance caused it to collapse. Although the warehouse policy is to stack and wrap heavy items below and lighter items on top, the procedure was not followed in this case.
The next steps include retraining the warehouse staff as well as tightening supervision and regular maintenance check of how safely and securely pallets are stacked.
When writing an incident report, keep these tips in mind:
An incident log book is a secure, organised way to document your company's safety record. According to the HSE, an incident report log book or accident book is an essential document for employers and employees, who are required by law to record and report details of specified work-related injuries and incidents.
Other than fulfilling the legal requirement, there are a few other benefits of keeping an incident report log book accurate and up-to-date at all times:
Many employees do not report or record incidents as they should. Usually, it’s because reporting and recording incidents can be an arduous, time-consuming process.
To save time and inconvenience, many employees may prefer to forgo reporting incidents, especially if it’s a very minor incident or a near miss.
Thankfully, in today’s digitised world, creating incident reports and keeping its records in a log book is no longer a time-consuming nightmare of manual paperwork. This can encourage employees to comply with reporting and recording incidents, allowing all parties to reap the benefits of an incident reporting procedure.
Digital solutions eliminate many problems associated with manual reporting and record-keeping. Here are just a few ways that our incident reporting system can streamline how you capture, manage, and report on safety incidents.
It’s difficult to know the latest updates or find particular incidents with manual records. When everything is digitised, you can see incidents recorded in real-time across the organisation and easily search for any past incident.
Unlike manual records, you can get a quick overview of the whole incident with visual maps, photographs, and important details — saving you a lot of time.
If you’d like to discover how our incident reporting tool can make it easier to streamline incident reporting in your organisation, submit a contact form today to get a demo.
Don’t forget to also take advantage of our free checklist and step-by-step guide on how to report incidents.
For a handy summary of this incident reporting guide, print out the infographic below and share it with others who can benefit from it too.