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Writing Up a Safety Incident Report

The responsibility of writing up a safety incident report is usually the job of the management “Head of Safety” department, but in a smaller company any member of management may be assigned the task. Additionally, in a “Union Shop” the union will have an authorized person to also write up a report.

These reports are no small matter as to remain within compliance of OSHA standards and regulations, these forms must be completed and kept on file for an OSHA investigation or review.

Maintaining compliance with the law not with standing, the real issue is there has been an accident and an injury to an employee. Technically any injury is an OSHA recordable, even if it’s not actually work related. For instance should an employee buy candy from the break area’s vending machine and subsequently breaks a tooth chewing it, it is an OSHA recordable.

The steps pertaining to writing a detailed and accurate safety incident report, unless there’s a catastrophic failure resulting in multiple injuries or death, are not really that difficult, especially if you have pre-printed forms and are only required to fill in the blanks. Without any forms a logical ” 5 whys?” approach is quite sufficient. Why did the accident happen? Where did the accident happen? Who did the accident happen to? What can be done to prevent the accident from happening again? What has been done to correct the hazard?

For a normal incident, answering the five questions accurately and in as much detail as you reasonably can, will suffice.

Here is a typical hypothetical response to an accident without serious injury and no remaining danger being posed to anyone.

Go to the accident scene and calmly review the area, looking for obvious signs of the accident and where it occurred. Interview the person(s) involved in the accident. Do not act like the Gestapo while performing this investigation or else you’ll never get the truth of what happened. You’re not there to judge or issue punishment, you’re there to insure the employees are alright and to prevent this type of accident ever occurring again.

After interviewing the accident victims, interview any witnesses to the event. Ask for written statements from everybody involved, but don’t expect much new information. Most people will verbalize more information than write.

Finish reviewing your notes and take one final review of the accident scene before going back to the office to write the incident report. Write the report, even if it’s a rough draft, immediately while facts are fresh in your mind. You may not think you’ll forget anything by tomorrow, but I can just about guarantee you, you will.

Answer the 5 why questions.

* Who was involved. Joe Smith; fork truck driver

* What happen? Driver backed into a hole exposed because a floor grate was missing.

* Why did this happen? Maintenance forgot to replace the grate when finished working on the pipes below.

* What will correct this hazard? Reinstruct maintenance personnel to always replace floor grates when finished working.

* What has been done to correct the hazard? The floor grate has been reinstalled.

For a standard safety incident report this type of investigation and reported results would fulfill any requirement posed by law.

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