Importance of Workplace Incident Reports

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Incident reports are important for documentation of events such as workplace accidents.
Incident reports are important for documentation of events such as workplace accidents. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

An accident or other potentially harmful incident can occur in any workplace. When it does, it is important to document the event by completing an incident report as soon as possible after the event. In addition to accidents, an incident report should also be completed after events such as acts of aggression, destruction of company property, inappropriate computer use and any seriously disruptive workplace behavior.

Identification

A workplace incident report is a written document completed by an assigned investigator after the occurrence of an event such as an accident. The report contains background information, such as where and when the incident occurred, as well as statements from all involved parties. The investigator uses the gathered information to determine the cause of the incident and to make recommendations to management regarding further actions or changes he believes need to occur.

Limiting Liability

Workplace incident reports help an organization reduce its exposure to liability. In situations such as bullying in the workplace, where a worker engages in repeated acts of nonviolent intimidation that harm another employee, an investigation and accompanying report can lead to the removal of the offending party from the workplace, if warranted. This prevents escalation that leads to further harm and the possibility of the injured party taking legal action against the company.

Insurance Purposes

Incident reports typically are required by insurance companies when investigating the events resulting in a workplace accident. Insurers rely heavily on the information contained in the reports to look for signs of negligence on the part of the company or the injured party. This can impact whether a workers' compensation claim is valid, meaning whether the injured party is entitled to receive benefits. Timely completion of the workplace report also ensures that eligible employees receive benefits as soon as possible.

Preventing Future Incidents

Incident reports help employers to prevent future incidents from occurring. Employers can use the information to assess the cause of the incident and take any necessary safety precautions. The reports also help them to detect trends that could lead to future incidents, such as several accidents occurring in a certain area of a plant or with a specific piece of equipment. The employer can take preventive measures, such as providing additional safety training and upgrading equipment.

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