How to Write an Effective Incident Report: Tips and Tricks

August 25, 2023
14 minutes to read
by Amy Hill
How to Write an Effective Incident Report: Tips and Tricks

Have you ever been involved in an workplace incident or witnessed one that required documentation? Writing an incident report can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure where to start.

If you’re tasked with writing an incident report, it’s essential to know what information to include and how to present it. In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks on how to write an effective incident report that will help you communicate the details of the event clearly and concisely. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new employee, these tips will help you produce a comprehensive and accurate incident report.

What is an incident report?

An incident report is a standardised form used to document any unexpected event that occurs in the workplace. The form contains fields that require detailed information about the incident, such as its location, date, time, type of incident, type of injury, and names of people involved.

The incident report may also include witness statements, photos, and any relevant supporting documents. Incident reports can be used to analyse the cause of accidents or incidents, identify trends, and develop strategies to prevent them from occurring again.

They play a critical role in workplace safety by providing a comprehensive account of any incidents that may compromise the safety of employees or visitors.

Why are incident reports important in Workplace Safety?

Creating a culture of safety in the workplace is a continuous process. Incident reports help employers identify potential hazards, take corrective measures, and prevent future occurrences. Some of the reasons why incident reports are essential in workplace safety include:

  1. Meet Regulatory Requirements: Incident reports are typically required by regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with workplace safety regulations.
  2. Identify potential hazards: Incident reports help identify potential hazards in the workplace that may compromise the safety of employees or visitors.
  3. Take corrective measures: Incident reports are critical in taking corrective measures to prevent future occurrences by identifying root causes and implementing appropriate solutions.
  4. Develop safety procedures: Incident reports can be used to develop safety procedures that can be communicated to employees to avoid accidents or incidents.
  5. Improve safety culture: Creating a culture of safety in the workplace is essential in preventing accidents or incidents. Incident reports help develop a culture of safety by identifying potential hazards, taking corrective measures, and providing training to employees.

Why Writing an Effective Report is Important

When an incident occurs in the workplace, it is essential to record the details accurately and completely. This record is known as an incident report. Reporting an incident is not only about documenting what happened but also creating a record that informs decision-making and improves safety practices in the workplace.

An effective report is crucial to identify the causes of the incident and develop corrective measures that could prevent similar incidents in the future. The report should detail the sequence of events leading up to the incident and provide information about any hazards that were present.

An effective report also plays a critical role in making decisions that impact workplace safety. For example, it can help identify trends and patterns in incidents, which can inform appropriate safety practices and policies. The report may also provide evidence for compensation claims and help establish compliance with regulatory requirements, which is particularly relevant to workplaces that operate in high-risk industries.

To ensure an effective report, it is essential to follow a structured approach. A well-structured report should include a clear description of the incident, the date and time it occurred, the location of the incident, the type of incident that occurred, and details of any injuries sustained. It is helpful to provide a factual account of the events leading up to the incident and identify the underlying causes of the incident.

Key Elements of an Effective Incident Report

These elements are crucial for organizations to identify the root cause of the incident, take corrective actions, and ensure that the incident does not recur. Adhering to these key elements in your incident report writing will enhance the quality, effectiveness, and overall support of future safety efforts in your organisation.

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An effective incident report should contain the following key elements.

Person(s) involved details

Understanding the People Involved in an Incident Report

In any incident report, it is essential to provide a clear understanding of the individuals involved. This includes their names, job titles, and how they were affected by the incident.

Names and Job Titles

When detailing the people involved in an incident report, it is essential to provide their names and job titles. This helps to provide clarity for those who will be reading the report and ensures that all parties are accurately identified.

Overview of Involvement

In addition to their names and job titles, it is necessary to provide a brief summary of how each person was involved in the incident. This includes whether they were injured, witnessed the incident, or were responsible for responding to and investigating the incident.


It is crucial to include any witnesses to the incident in an incident report, providing details on what they saw and heard. This provides an additional perspective to the incident and can help to provide vital information for the investigation.

Other Relevant Parties

Depending on the nature of the incident, other relevant parties may be involved in the response and investigation. These may include emergency services personnel, safety officials, or company owners. It is important to detail their involvement in the incident and how they were affected by it.

An effective incident report should accurately detail the people involved in the incident, including their names, job titles and a summary of their involvement. This report must include details on any witnesses and other relevant parties, providing a comprehensive overview of the incident for those who need to refer to it.

Incident details

When writing an incident report, the details of the event are critical. This section should be clear, concise, and contain accurate and complete information about the incident. Here are some important details to include:

Date, Time, and Location

It is vital to include the date, time, and location of the incident in the report. This helps to establish a clear timeline of the event and provides a point of reference for any ongoing investigations. These details should be as specific as possible, including the exact time of the incident and the exact location where it occurred.

Type of Incident and Potential Hazards

The incident report should clearly outline the type of incident that occurred. Was it a workplace incident, an environmental incident, a natural disaster, or a medical incident? This information will help to determine the appropriate response and corrective actions required.

In addition to the type of incident, it’s important to mention any potential hazards or dangers that were present. This could include things like chemicals, machinery, or environmental factors like inclement weather.

Relevant Aspects

It’s important to provide as many relevant details as possible in the incident report to help avoid future occurrences. This includes any factors that may have contributed to the incident, such as human error, equipment failures, or communication breakdowns.

This section can also include any information that may help to improve safety culture. For example, if the incident was preventable, it can be used as a teaching tool to highlight areas for improvement and reinforce the importance of safety procedures and protocols.

In summary, the incident details section of an incident report should contain accurate and complete information about the event, including the date, time, and location, the type of incident, potential hazards, and any relevant aspects that could help avoid future occurrences or improve safety culture.

Incident description

The incident description should provide a clear account of what occurred and should include as many details as possible. This includes the circumstances surrounding the incident, any potential hazards or warning signs, and any previous similar incidents.

It is also important to list any witnesses who were present during the incident, as well as any involved parties, including their names and job titles. This information can be critical for ongoing investigations and for taking corrective actions to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

If applicable, it’s also important to note any natural disasters that may have contributed to the incident, such as a flood, earthquake, or severe storm.

An incident report should also include information about the equipment involved in the incident, including the extent of the damage to the asset. In some cases, it may be necessary to include photographs of the equipment to accurately depict the damage.

Lastly, if there were any psychological injuries that resulted from the incident, it is important to document these injuries as well. This can include any emotional or mental distress that may have been experienced by those involved.

Overall, by providing a thorough incident description, organisations can gain valuable insights into the cause of the incident and can take corrective actions to prevent similar events from occurring in the future.

Injured worker on the way to fill out an incident report.
Helping injured co-worker after accident on at work.

Injury details

When documenting an incident report, it is crucial to provide a detailed account of the injuries sustained during the incident. This information can provide valuable insights into the safety hazards present in the workplace and can help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Nature and Extent of the Injury

It is essential to outline the nature and extent of the injury. This includes the specific body part that was injured, such as a broken bone or sprained ankle. Additionally, the severity of the injury should be documented, ranging from minor to severe, and any other relevant details that provide a clear picture of the extent of the harm caused by the incident.

Medical Treatment

Injured individuals may require medical attention for their injuries, ranging from first aid to emergency care. It is essential to document the type of medical treatment provided, including the name of any medical professionals involved in the treatment, any emergency services used, and the duration of the treatment. If further medical appointments or follow-up treatments are necessary, these should also be documented to establish a clear understanding of the full impact of the incident on the affected person.

Hazards and Safety Issues

Based on the nature and extent of the injury, it is essential to identify any potential hazards or safety issues that may have contributed to the injury. These hazards could include inadequate training, lack of protective equipment, poor lighting, or hazardous working conditions. Addressing these safety issues will help prevent similar future incidents from happening again.

Impact on the Involved Person and Compensation Claims

Finally, the impact of the injury on the individual involved should be documented. This includes any long-term implications resulting from the injury, such as ongoing pain or the inability to participate in activities previously enjoyed. If the injury has resulted in the need for time off, this should be recorded, along with any impact on the individual’s ability to work. Depending on the circumstances, the injury may also have resulted in a compensation claim. If so, details on the claim should be added to the incident report.

The injury details are essential to include in an incident report and should provide an accurate representation of the nature and extent of the injury, medical treatment required, any potential hazards or safety issues, and the impact of the injury on the involved person, including any compensation claims that may arise.

Workplace injuries can be reduced by implementing injury reporting
Construction Worker Falling Off Ladder And Injuring Leg

Corrective actions

Corrective actions are a critical aspect of the incident reporting process. Once an incident has been reported, the next step is to identify the root cause of the event and take corrective and preventive action (CAPA) to ensure that similar occurrences never happen again.

Here are the necessary steps to address corrective actions in an incident report:

1. Determine the root cause:

The first step is to investigate the incident by identifying the root cause. Conduct a thorough analysis of the incident, which should include gathering relevant data and information from all available sources to understand the contributing factors to the event. This step will allow you to identify the underlying cause and pinpoint what changes need to be made to prevent future occurrences.

2. Formulate appropriate corrective and preventive action (CAPA):

After identifying the root cause, it is essential to formulate the appropriate corrective and preventive action (CAPA). The solution should be tailored to address the root cause and prevent the occurrence of similar events. This is where team members and stakeholders can come in to contribute their knowledge and expertise.

3. Specify the actions of those involved:

The incident report should also specify the actions of those involved at the time of the incident. This information will allow the report to determine if those involved were trained properly for the task. If not, the report will highlight the gaps in their training and what action should be taken to fill those gaps.

4. Take action after the incident:

In addition to corrective actions, it is essential to take action after the incident. This step involves implementing measures that would eliminate future occurrences of similar incidents. This can include assigning members of the organization to review security footage and maintenance records to clarify the event’s cause fully.

Finally, it’s essential to track the progress of the corrective and preventive action taken and review it regularly to ensure that the new system is working. This step will allow you to adjust the system if necessary and make improvements to the process. By following these necessary steps, the incident report can serve as a vital tool for identifying gaps in safety processes and implementing corrective actions to prevent future incidents.

Incident close out

Incident Close Out: Steps to Effectively Close an Incident Report

Closing out an incident report is a crucial step in any incident management process. It allows for a review of the incident and the implementation of corrective actions to prevent future occurrences. Here are the steps you should take to effectively close out an incident report:

1. Review and Document Corrective Actions

After an incident has occurred, it’s important to conduct a review process to identify the root cause. Once the root cause has been determined, the appropriate corrective actions should be formulated and documented. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders have been involved in the process, and that the corrective actions taken are effective in addressing the root cause.

2. Notify Involved Parties

After corrective actions have been completed, it’s important to notify all involved parties of the incident closure. This communication can be done through email or meetings, depending on the size and complexity of the incident.

3. File and Store Relevant Documents

All relevant documents, including the incident report and any corrective action plans, should be filed and stored in a secure location for future reference. This documentation provides a record of the incident and the steps that were taken to address it.

4. Assess Potential Hazards

Incident close out provides an opportunity to assess potential hazards and consider measures that can be put in place to prevent future occurrences. Conduct a hazard assessment in the relevant areas and take appropriate preventive actions where necessary.

5. Review the Incident Reporting Process

Incident close out provides a valuable opportunity to review the incident reporting process and make any necessary changes to improve its effectiveness. Evaluate the process to ensure that it covers all relevant aspects of incident reporting and that it’s easy to use.

By following these steps, you can effectively close out an incident report and ensure that all involved parties are aware of the corrective actions taken. Conducting a review process and making any necessary changes to the incident reporting process improves the overall safety culture and minimizes the likelihood of future incidents.

Filling out an injury report.
Filling out an injury report after a workplace incident.

Tips for Writing an Effective Incident Report

Writing an effective incident report is crucial in managing workplace safety and preventing future incidents. By documenting the details of an incident, it provides clarity on what occurred, what actions were taken, and how it could be prevented in the future. Here are some tips on how to write an effective incident report.

Stay Objective and Factual in Your Reporting

When it comes to incident reporting, it is critical to stay objective and factual in your writing. The goal is to provide an accurate account of what happened without speculating or editorializing. This will not only help to avoid misunderstandings but also to ensure that the report effectively communicates the details of the incident to those who need to know.

To stay objective in your incident report writing, it is important to focus on describing the events that occurred and how they affected those involved. This means avoiding excessive detail and subjective language, and instead, using objective language wherever possible. It is also important to stick to the facts and avoid speculating about causes or motives.

The key information that needs to be included in the report includes the date and time of the incident, a clear description of what happened, names of involved parties, witness statements, and type/severity of injury or equipment damage (if applicable). It’s important to avoid omitting any details that may be relevant and to provide an accurate and complete account of what happened.

Including witness statements can be particularly valuable, as they can provide insight into what happened, and can help to corroborate the details of the incident. However, it’s important to ensure that witness statements are accurate, and to avoid attempting to fill in any gaps through speculation.

In summary, staying objective and factual in your incident report writing means providing an accurate and complete account of what happened without speculating or editorializing. By using objective language, focusing on describing the events that occurred and how they affected those involved, and including all relevant details, you can ensure that your report is clear, concise, and effective. Ultimately, this approach will help to avoid misunderstandings and facilitate effective communication.

Include All Necessary Information in Your Report

When it comes to writing an incident report, it is vital to include all necessary information to ensure accurate and complete documentation of the event. Here are some essential elements you must include in your report while following the given instructions:

1. Start with a clear and detailed description of the incident:

Begin your report by describing the incident that occurred in detail. Clearly state the date, time and location of the event. This information will help to provide context and enable a reader to understand when and where the incident took place.

2. Explain any injuries or damages sustained:

Provide a thorough account of injuries, including any physical harm to people or damage to equipment or property, that occurred during the incident. It is important to describe the injuries in detail, including the type and extent of the injuries, to accurately convey the severity of the incident.

3. List all involved parties and witnesses:

Be sure to include the names of all parties involved in the incident, including any witnesses who may have seen or heard what happened. This information can help in conducting further investigations and can also assist in determining corrective actions to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

4. Note any emergency services that responded:

If emergency services were called to the incident location, be sure to include information on the type of service that was provided and the response time. This is particularly important for incidents that involved injuries or significant damage or posed a potential threat to the safety of people or the environment.

5. Identify any potential hazards or regulatory requirements:

In the report, highlight any potential hazards or regulatory requirements that may have contributed to the incident. This can include non-compliance with safety regulations, improper use of equipment, or a lack of proper training or resources. Providing this information will help to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future and promote a safer work culture.

By including all necessary information in your incident report, you can ensure that all involved parties are accounted for, and appropriate actions can be taken to minimize the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future.

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Amy Hill
Amy Hill, boasting over two decades of expertise in sports, recreation, and major events, previously held the pivotal role of GM of Operations at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC). In this capacity, she expertly managed the execution of high-profile sporting events, including the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Amy's illustrious career is punctuated by accolades, most notably the prestigious "Executive Leader of the Year" (Medium Corporation) recognition in the 2022 Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and the esteemed title of Y Victoria's Staff Member of the Year, bestowed upon her in 2013. Connect on LinkedIn

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