employee filling out an incident report form

Why your company should report every incident

Author: BLR

The success of any workplace safety program relies on various types of incident reporting, as well as employees’ understanding of when, where, and how to submit each report. It may sometimes be challenging to gain acceptance for and recognition of the benefits of incident reports, which have long been a way to promote and enhance worksite safety. However, including incident reports in your environment, health, and safety (EHS) program is crucial, and here are a few reasons why.

The importance of incident reporting

  • Having recorded incidents provides your company with valuable data for analysis, enabling you to prevent similar future incidents.
  • Incident reporting plays a crucial role in alerting management to existing problems in the workplace and empowering them to implement corrective actions that prevent future incidents.
  • The ability to report incidents quickly becomes essential when medical attention is needed to prevent minor injuries from escalating into major ones. Prompt reporting ensures faster help, minimizing the severity of injuries.
  • Unreported minor incidents and near misses can have far-reaching consequences, leading to more serious incidents later on. By neglecting to address hazards, the risk of larger incidents increases, as emphasized by the safety pyramid.
  • Proper documentation of every incident report allows for trend analysis, helping you identify patterns and recurring issues. This enables targeted improvements and leads to enhancements in processes and production.
  • The significance of complete incident report records becomes evident when considering potential lawsuits. These records can protect your company by providing evidence and supporting your defense.
  • Reporting and tracking near misses and minor incidents are far more cost-effective than dealing with major injuries, equipment failures, fatalities, or property damage. This proactive approach minimizes risks and prevents larger incidents from occurring.
  • Employee feedback, facilitated through incident reports, fosters participation in workplace safety improvement strategies.

Incident reporting not only helps prevent incidents, but it increases safety culture. It provides a clear picture of areas where your organization can improve, driving the implementation of new policies and regulations to keep employees safe.

It’s important to promptly report, diligently document, and thoroughly investigate every workplace incident. Moreover, it’s essential to store each incident report in a manner that enables your company to analyze trends in incident data, allowing for proactive measures to prevent their recurrence.

Incident reports should encompass a range of situations, including, but not limited to:

  • Near misses for both people and property;
  • Customer complaints;
  • Damage to property or equipment;
  • On-the-job motor vehicle accidents;
  • Work-related illnesses or health complications potentially arising from workplace conditions;
  • Employee injuries or fatalities; and
  • Incidents in which individuals other than employees become ill, sustain injuries, pass away, or experience health complications due to the actions of the company or its employees.

To ensure a safe work environment, it’s paramount for workplaces to implement a comprehensive program for reporting hazards, including unsafe behavior and conditions, to management. To streamline this process and prevent it from becoming overwhelming, we highly recommend exploring a comprehensive EHS solution.

What is the difference between an accident and an incident?

Generally, an accident is an unplanned, unwanted event that occurs randomly and couldn’t have been prevented. Conversely, an incident could potentially have been prevented but is also an unplanned, unwanted event. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes that almost all workplace illnesses, injuries, and fatalities are avoidable, thus recommending the use of the term “incident.”

When to report an incident

Immediate reporting of all incidents, near misses, or injuries is essential. Using an EHS solution for fast reporting allows for more precise incident details, facilitates thorough investigations, and expedites corrective actions. It’s crucial to ensure employees aren’t uncertain about whether their incident merits an incident report.

How to inform employees of incident reporting requirements

New employees should receive thorough training on the incident reporting process the company uses as part of the onboarding process. This includes becoming familiar with the incident report form. A regular safety meeting is a great opportunity to reinforce and provide refresher information on the incident reporting process.

How should an incident be reported?

Every company should ensure a standard incident report form is readily available and easily accessible to every employee. It’s important that every employee knows where to find, complete, and submit this form. As a recommended approach, providing employees or supervisors with an allows them to conveniently file reports directly from the field. These reports can be sent to the designated safety personnel responsible for conducting investigations. Any necessary follow-up actions can then be expertly handled by the appropriately trained individuals in your company.

What should happen after an incident report is filled out?

Once an incident report is submitted, it’s important to take it seriously. No employee should ever face punishment for responsibly reporting an incident. As per the company’s incident report process, the employee who filed the report should be interviewed to ensure comprehensive collection of all relevant facts and a thorough understanding of the incident. The subsequent steps of the incident report follow-up process should include a complete incident investigation, documentation of any medical care provided, implementation of corrective actions, and establishment of preventive measures to stop similar incidents from happening in the future. To maintain proper recordkeeping, store every report in a secure location, such as in the company’s incident and investigation software. In addition, discussing the hazard involved in the incident during the next safety meeting can be an additional proactive measure to take.

Notifying OSHA

Employers have a legal obligation to inform OSHA of an employee fatality or work-related hospitalization. Fatalities must be reported within 8 hours, while in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye loss must be reported within 24 hours. Reliable EHS or safety software will automate these reports, ensuring they’re sent to OSHA promptly.