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June 14, 2021

4 steps for writing an effective accident report

It’s imperative to institute a systematic method for investigating accidents.  A report needs to include all the essential information about the accident or near-miss.  The process begins with fact finding and ends with recommendations for preventing costly future workplace accidents.  Writing any incident report involves four basic steps.

1. Respond Immediately

Employees should notify their supervisor as soon as an accident or injury occurs. The supervisor’s first responsibility is to see that proper medical treatment or first aid is provided.  Also, if the hazard still exists, the supervisor needs to immediately eliminate it. Your company should have an established procedure for this.

2. Find the Facts

Once the immediate response has been completed, a thorough on-site accident investigation should be conducted by an investigation team. This should take place quickly after the incident so those affected still have the situation fresh in their mind. Items to review include:

  • Date, time and specific location of incident

  • Names, job titles and department of employees involved and immediate supervisors

  • Names and accounts of witnesses

  • Events leading up to incident

  • Specifically what the employee was doing at the moment of the accident

  • Environmental conditions (e.g. slippery floor, inadequate lighting, noise, etc.)

  • Circumstances (including tasks, equipment, tools, materials, PPE, etc.)

  • Specific injuries (including part(s) of body injured, nature and extent of injuries)

  • Type of treatment for injuries

  • Damage to equipment, materials, etc.

3. Analyze

After determining how, you must find out why. This is necessary for developing an effective plan of action for control. Causes include:

  • Primary causes (e.g. a spill on the floor that caused a slip and fall)

  • Secondary causes (e.g. employee not wearing appropriate work shoes or carrying a stack of material that blocked vision)

  • Other contributing factors (e.g., burned out light bulb in the area)

4. Complete Corrective Action Plan

Recommendations for corrective action might include immediate corrective action, as well as long-term corrective actions such as:

  • Employee training on safe work practices

  • Preventive maintenance activities that keep equipment in good operating condition

  • Evaluation of job procedures with a recommendation for changes

  • Conducting a job hazard analysis to evaluate the task for any other hazards and then train employees on these hazards

  • Engineering changes that make the task safer or administrative changes that might include changing the way the task is performed

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