Every worker deserves a safe space to thrive, and utilizing both internal incident report and external incident report ensure every workplace remains a beacon of security. You're not just clocking in – you're stepping into an environment that's been crafted for your safety.
Two Types of Incident Reports: Internal and External
- Internal Incident Reports focus on incidents within an organization, emphasizing employee safety and risk management.
- External Incident Reports address incidents involving external parties, prioritizing public relations and regulatory compliance.
What is an Internal Incident Report?
An internal incident report is a document used within an organization to record and address any unforeseen events or mishaps that occur on the premises or involve its employees. Internal incident reports are crucial for identifying potential risks, ensuring employee safety, and implementing preventive measures. They typically include details about the incident, the individuals involved, the date and time, and any corrective actions taken.
Common examples of internal incidents include slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. In 2019, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that slips, trips, and falls constituted 27% of all reported non-lethal office injuries.
What is an External Incident Report?
An external incident report, on the other hand, pertains to incidents that involve external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, or the general public. These reports are essential for maintaining an organization's reputation, addressing public concerns, and ensuring compliance with external regulations. They often detail the nature of the incident, the parties involved, any potential impacts on the public, and the steps taken to resolve the issue.
Examples of external incidents include natural disasters, civil unrest, regulatory and economic changes, supply chain disruptions, and pandemic crises.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Internal and External Reporting
Both internal incident reports and external incident reports serve vital functions. However, like most tools and procedures, each method comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The Pros of Internal Reporting
- Easier Communication: Internal incident report often means that the communication lines are shorter. Employees can directly report to their supervisors or relevant department heads, eliminating the bureaucracy often associated with external entities.
- Faster Response Times: With doing internal incident report, the time between the reporting of an incident and the initiation of corrective action can be much shorter. This is because there's no need to wait for an external body to process and respond to the report.
- Fostering a Culture of Responsibility: Encouraging doing internal incident report can also help build a company culture where employees feel responsible for the organization's safety and efficiency. They become more proactive in identifying and reporting issues, knowing their concerns are valued and addressed promptly.
The Cons of Internal Reporting
- Potential Biases: One major disadvantage of internal incident report is the possibility of bias. Since the reporting is kept within the organization, there might be instances where incidents are downplayed or overlooked to protect the company's image or certain individuals.
- Lack of External Scrutiny: Without an outside perspective, some incidents might not be seen as significant or might be handled in ways that don’t meet industry best practices.
- Possible Underreporting: Employees might fear retaliation or believe that their concerns won't be taken seriously. As a result, they might choose not to report certain incidents.
The Pros of External Reporting
- Independent Scrutiny: External reporting means that an outside body will be analyzing the incident, providing an unbiased view. This can help ensure that incidents are judged fairly and actions taken are appropriate.
- Potential for Greater Accountability: With the eyes of an external entity on them, organizations might feel a greater pressure to address and rectify incidents comprehensively.
- Adherence to Regulatory Standards: External bodies often work according to specific regulatory standards. Reporting to them ensures that the organization's incident handling aligns with these standards, which can be especially important in regulated industries.
The Cons of External Reporting
- Potential for Misunderstandings: With external reporting, there's a risk that the outside entity might not fully understand the intricacies or context of a particular incident, leading to potential misunderstandings or misjudgments.
- Delays Due to External Processes: External bodies have their procedures, which might take longer than internal processes. This could delay the resolution of an incident.
- Potential Reputational Risks: If incidents become public, it can harm the organization's image, especially if they're perceived as being negligent or at fault.
What are the five steps that should be completed when reporting an incident?
- Immediate Response: Ensure the safety and well-being of all involved individuals. This might mean providing first aid, evacuating the area, or containing the issue. Notify the necessary emergency services if the situation requires it (e.g., medical help, fire department).
- Documentation: Gather information about the incident. This can include date, time, location, individuals involved, and a description of what occurred. Use objective language, and avoid speculation or placing blame. Photographs, videos, or sketches can be helpful.
- Notify Relevant Parties: Inform appropriate supervisors, managers, or designated personnel within the organization. If applicable, notify external entities. This could be regulatory bodies, insurers, or law enforcement, depending on the nature of the incident.
- Investigation: Conduct a thorough examination to understand the root cause of the incident. This involves interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents or footage, and possibly consulting with experts. The goal is to determine why the incident happened and how similar incidents can be prevented in the future.
- Review and Follow-Up: Discuss the findings of the investigation with relevant stakeholders. Implement corrective actions or preventive measures as needed. This could involve revising procedures, providing training, or making physical changes to the environment. Monitor the effectiveness of these measures and adjust as necessary.
What are the three requirements for writing an incident report?
- Clarity and Conciseness: Every incident report should be clear and include all pertinent details without adding unnecessary or redundant information. Use plain and objective language. Avoid jargon, unless it's industry-specific and commonly understood by all readers of the report. Maintain a neutral tone, refraining from placing blame or adding subjective opinions. The focus should be on facts.
- Comprehensiveness: Ensure that fundamental details such as date, time, location, persons involved, and a chronological account of what transpired are included. Attach or reference any supporting evidence, like photographs, videos, witness testimonies, or related documents. Document any immediate actions taken in response to the incident, such as first aid provided, notifications made, or emergency services contacted. While the root cause analysis might be part of a deeper investigation, initial observations or perceived causes should be noted.
- Timeliness: An effective incident report is usually completed as soon as possible after the incident. This ensures that details are fresh and more accurate. Once written, the report should be promptly distributed to the relevant parties (supervisors, safety officers, or other appropriate personnel) so that necessary actions or investigations can begin without delay.
When is an incident reportable?
The criteria for when an incident is reportable vary depending on the organization's policies, industry standards, regulatory requirements, and the country or jurisdiction in which the organization operates. Generally, an incident is considered reportable when:
- Injury or Illness: An employee or any individual in the organization's premises sustains an injury or illness believed to be related to workplace conditions or activities.
- Fatality: Any work-related death, regardless of the time between the incident and the death or the duration of the illness.
- Property Damage: The incident results in significant damage to property, equipment, or machinery.
- Environmental Impact: Incidents that result in a release of substances to the environment beyond permissible limits or those that could potentially harm the environment.
- Security Breach: Unauthorized access, data breaches, theft, or any other security-related incidents.
- Violations: The incident involves a breach of internal company policies, industry regulations, or legal requirements.
- Near Misses: Situations where no actual harm or damage occurred but had the potential for serious negative outcomes. Reporting near misses can help prevent future incidents.
- Reputation Impact: Incidents that could potentially harm the organization's public image or stakeholder relations.
- Operational Interruption: Incidents that disrupt normal operations, even if there is no immediate harm or damage.
- Regulatory Requirements: Many jurisdictions have specific criteria for reportable incidents, especially in industries like healthcare, energy, transportation, and construction. For instance, certain injuries, illnesses, or other events may be mandated for reporting to governmental agencies.
- Contractual Obligations: Sometimes contracts, especially in B2B relationships, may have clauses that require the disclosure of certain types of incidents.
Organizations should have a clear incident reporting policy that outlines which types of incidents are reportable. Employees should be trained to recognize these incidents and understand the reporting process. Reporting even minor incidents can provide valuable insights and can be instrumental in preventing more significant adverse events in the future.