Accident and Incident Reports

What is it? An accident or incident report documents an injury, accident, work stoppage, equipment failure, worker illness, or personal problem.

You might write an accident/incident report if:

  • Someone was injured at work
  • Machinery broke
  • Machinery malfunctioned
  • Work stopped for a significant period of time
  • An employee complained of harassment or bullying
  • A fight occurred in the workplace
  • An employee came to work intoxicated

Why is it important? Accident and incident reports can be used in insurance claims, workers’ compensation awards, and even lawsuits.

Poorly written accident/incident reports may place blame where it does not belong or deflect blame from guilty parties.  The stakes are
high when writing these reports, so it is important to follow the instruction provided in this unit carefully.

What goes in an accident/incident report? Accident/incident reports should include at least the following:

  • What happened
  • Why it happened
  • What the business did about it or is going to do about it

Checklist for Accident/Incident Reports – make sure your report contains as much of the following:

  • Date of event
  • Location
  • Full names of people involved
  • Names of witnesses
  • Events leading up to the accident
  • Environmental condition if applicable (slippery floors, poor lighting, hazardous materials etc.)
  • Description of the job duty that was being performed at the time of the incident/accident
  • Detailed description of the event
  • Parts of body injured and/or parts of equipment damaged (in an injury occurred)
  • Description of employee’s response immediately after the event (grabbing injured arm, running from room etc.)
  • Extent of damage
  • Treatment of injury or course of action taken

Some employers may also ask for an analysis of why the event took place and a recommendation for future prevention.

Audience: Since these reports have legal ramifications, the writer should consider the audience to be anyone from the people involved in the incident to investigators and/or law enforcement to judges.

Other Considerations:

  • Witnesses: Unless you are working alone, you should always seek as many perspectives as is reasonable and possible when writing an accident/incident report. Different people may see different things or remember the situation differently.
  • Neutral Language: Because these documents may be used in court or in other legal proceedings, it is important to use specific facts and neutral statements instead of impressions or emotional statements


Poor Example (too biased/emotional):  John was just doing his job, working hard like he always does, and being a great team player when Mark rammed into him with the forklift like he was some hit man from an action movie.

Good Example (neutral and specific):  John Smith was loading boxes on shelf B2 when Mark Peterson backed into him with the forklift, causing John to fall backwards and hit a stack of boxes on the floor.

Poor Example (based on impressions):  It just seemed like Gus was always kind of sweet on Tanya, but he was kind of creepy at the same time. He just made everyone feel uncomfortable. He was too touchy-feely.

Good Example (neutral and specific):  On March 13, 2014, three employees (Margo Swinton, Barb Gell, and Tom Haven) heard Gus Brown say he had a crush on Tanya Vincent (another employee) and that he would do anything to “get in her pants.”  On March 14, 23, and 29, Tanya reported to her supervisor that Gus Brown made her feel uncomfortable because he continued to give her a back rub after she said she did not want him to touch her.


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Technical Writing for Technicians Copyright © 2019 by Will Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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