How to Write a Safety Incident Report


An incident report provides all essential information about an accident or near miss that's taken place.

A complete incident investigation form should contain the following elements:

  • Worker Characteristics
  • Injury / Illness Characteristics
  • Description and Sequencing of Events
  • Time factors and working conditions
  • Description of task(s) being performed when the
    incident occurred
  • Characteristics of any equipment associated with the
  • Supervision information
  • Causal factors
  • Recordings and photos
  • Corrective Actions

This article will help you to thoroughly document each of these components and create a detailed report of workplace incidents. 

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Document Worker Characteristics

During the incident investigation process, you begin by first collecting and documenting the following information about the worker(s) involved in the incident: their age; gender; department; job title; experience level; time with company and current role; training records; and worker type (full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary, or contract).


Worker with hurt leg, injury, incident

Describe Injury/Illness Characteristics

Next, you will need to describe the injury or illness and its severity. Note the part(s) of the body that have been affected. Is medical treatment required? Depending on the consequences of the injury or illness, you may need to complete appropriate OSHA recordkeeping logs. For help with recordkeeping, check out our Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping.

Piece Together the Sequence of Events

Then, you’ll need to fully describe the events leading up to, and following, the incident. The following questions will help you to put together a complete sequence of events.

How did the incident occur? Were there any objects or substances involved in the event? Were there preventative measures in place at the time? Were they used? What happened after the incident occurred?

Note Tasks Conducted when the Incident Took Place

Outline the characteristics of the task(s) being performed at the time of the incident.

Record the worker’s general and specific activities, as well as their location during the work. Were they working alone or with others? Was the job procedure a contributing factor? Were the job procedures written or commonly known? Did the worker deviate in any way from normal procedures?

Record the Time of Incident and Working Conditions

Next, record general information such as the time of day. You’ll want to confirm the specific time of the incident in the injured worker’s shift; the type of shift they were working; what phase of the worker’s day that the incident took place in, such as performing work, break time, mealtime, overtime, or entering or leaving the facility. You may also want to consider conditions such as temperature, light, noise, and the weather.

Take Down Characteristics of Involved Equipment

If any equipment was involved or associated with an incident, you will need to include its characteristics in your report. Identify the equipment’s type, brand, size, condition, as well as any distinguishing features and specific part(s) involved.

It’s important to investigate whether the employee was properly trained on the use of the equipment, and if training or re-training should be provided. Depending on the equipment’s condition, you may also want to review your organization’s inspection logs to see if more frequent audits of the equipment are needed.

Female Safety Worker

Obtain Supervision Information

It’s important to find out the direct supervisor of the worker involved in the incident in the event that you will need to interview them or share key information throughout your investigation. You will also want to investigate if the injured worker was being supervised directly or indirectly at the time the incident occurred. Was supervision feasible or recommended for the task?

Wet floor sign near stairs

Determine Causal Factors

The purpose of all this fact-finding is to determine all of the contributing factors that led to the incident. Answers such as “the worker was careless or “The employee did not follow safety procedures” don’t uncover
the root cause of the incident. To get to the root cause, continue to ask “Why?” As in, “Why weren’t safety procedures followed?” Contributing factors may involve equipment, environment, people, and management.

Take Recordings and Photos

Memories fade with time and evidence disappears. Taking photos and video recordings of an incident site is an excellent way to preserve all of the details of the scene. Start by photographing the general area then move to the specific
scene of the incident. Take photos/videos from all sides and several angles. Ask witnesses to direct where shots should be taken and note their comments.

Assign Corrective Actions

At this point, once you’ve gathered all your information, you can begin to create corrective actions. Each corrective action listed should have a person assigned
ultimate responsibility for the action, a set deadline for completion, and a place to mark the completion of the task. Deadlines should be prioritized. Immediate measures should be completed first, with plans for interim or longer-term actions clearly mapped out.

Have Supervisors Sign-off

Once you've finished preparing your report, the final step is to ensure that it is signed off by the supervisor who was on duty during the incident. Depending on the nature of the incident, you may also want to have witnesses and other involved parties review and sign off on the form as well.

These individuals should recheck the accuracy of all details before signing, and their contact information should also be recorded on the form should there be additional questions to answer later.

Once you've collected all the necessary signatures from involved parties, your incident investigation should now be complete and you can share your findings with management and workers.


What Does a Sample Incident Report Look Like?

The layout of information in an incident report form may vary depending on the type of incident that's occurred, and a number of other factors. So there are many different examples of incident report templates. At Vector EHS Management software, we offer easy-to-use recording forms that can be configured to capture the incident details most important to your organization.

Here's a sample of Vector EHS's default incident form layout, though, to give you an idea of what data points our customers are commonly tracking.

incident form fields

You can view an interactive version of a Vector EHS Incident Recording Form by signing up for a demo of our Software. 

How Can Incident Reporting Software Help?

Vector EHS Management's easy-to-use forms make it simple to collect data for multiple types of incidents, including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries.

Vector EHS Management's public web form also enables all of an organization’s stakeholders to report incidents via a simple web link. Users can even complete incident forms using a mobile device or tablet with Vector EHS's mobile app.

Want to Know More?

Reach out and a Vector Solutions representative will respond back to help answer any questions you might have.