55+ Sample Incident Report Forms

What Is an Incident Report?

First things first, incidents refer to unexpected events that affect standard operations. According to Safeopedia, an incident is any unintentional occurrence that disrupts conventional processes, particularly in occupational health and safety. More so, such an episode covers from a near miss to a deadly accident. Meanwhile, a report announces detailed written or oral accounts about investigated events. Combine both terms, and you form an incident report; thus, it is an official document that informs how certain circumstances, which harmed certain people and assets, happened.


According to the National Safety Council, every seven seconds signifies an injured worker.

Meanwhile, a 2018 study noted that there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal incidents reported by private business employers.

To boot, Statista confirmed that the US employed 155.76 million individuals in 2018.

Incident vs Accident

Before heading on to creating reports, it is vital to note what the difference is between incidents and accidents. Many people find these terms as interchangeable in the first place, and maybe you are guilty of that as well. As such words are related, the concept is different. An accident is only a type of incident, so every accident is referred to as an incident. As events are referred to as incidents, it does not mean that every event qualifies as accidents. Furthermore, accidents possibly end with property damages and cause injuries or illnesses to workers. Even so, incidents may still involve property damage, yet no injuries and illnesses take place.

Why Are Incident Report Forms Important?

One might question, why should I notify incidents to authorities? Expect many reasons why such forms are indispensable. One primary goal is to figure out how conditions and factors led to particular events. That way, avoiding future incidents can be implemented. Also, who is liable and responsible for certain circumstances is identified according to that report. And it is much better than putting out the blame against anyone without research or investigation.

Confirming how fatal or nonfatal incidents are will happen as well. And did you know that an incident report is not only used for situations inside the conventional corporate office? A student in school, a patient in a hospital, and a construction worker in the worksite might encounter incidents as well. Thus, reporting what occurred is a standard. Lastly, this form of reporting observes culture in workplace safety. With safety culture, the need to come up with observations, improvements, and awareness brings a secure and positive working environment for sure.

What Are the Essential Elements of an Incident Report?

The next concern to answer is identifying what to include inside the incident report form. Despite having different ways and guidelines to create incident reports, common denominators apply as well. Never fret because once the important elements are identified, forming such a report would not get any easier. Without further ado, the essential inclusions are the following:

Basic Information: Incident reports that lack the basic yet main points mark as incomplete reports. To keep it complete, start inputting the parties’ details, incident location, time and date, and short descriptions about the injuries and what occurred. When it comes to the party information, identify the names, contact numbers, and other factors to identify them. Next, be specific with the time and place of such incidents. And the descriptions must be brief and understandable.Precision: Your whole effort of reporting turns to waste without observing accuracy to the full info. Check everything written in the report first. Does it have grammatical and spelling errors? Also, are there missing points to fill from the story? The point is you paint the picture precisely to make it more believable. Otherwise, people might question its credibility.Objectivity: In reporting, be objective to avoid sounding biased or sentimental. Maybe you ended up becoming too poetic describing your feelings during that time. Others point the blame according to prejudice too. And how do you keep it objective instead? Report without judgmental comments and prevent sounding condescending. Stick with pure facts only since biased opinions will not be taken seriously.Cause of Incident: One of the hardest challenges to solve in the report is what caused the incident in the first place. Simply giving out conclusions without proof is a huge no-no. However, sometimes causes are left undetermined even when the first investigation happened. With that, state your hypothesis by incorporating witness statements, security footage, or photos to help the investigation.Legal Considerations: Another segment to boost the accuracy and correctness is each legal consideration. Do not expect that the same legal document is used for every incident investigation because it may differ according to the event. Is it related to assault, physical injury, theft, property damage, or perhaps aggressive behavior? And be sure to review the company regulations and state laws as a basis on what rules are allowed and prohibited.Confidentiality: Never ignore a confidentiality agreement as some incidents might contain sensitive, private, or confidential details. An example is when it involves an individual’s health problem. Thus, identify the authorization details since only those who are authorized are allowed to view the report.Manager’s Signature: When a report is complete, have it signed by the employer or supervisor in charge. Also, that manager who signed it must have read and reviewed the full report to ensure if it is legible, precise, or understandable enough. That employer has a right not to sign the form when it fails to comply with its regulations.

How to Make an Incident Report

In the US, around 155.76 million people were employed in 2018. And in that same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that employers in private businesses had reported 2.8 million nonfatal incidents. With such big numbers, incidents are not a rare occasion. It can happen anytime, and everyone in a company must know how to form such a report, especially when you might need it. How do you create an incident report? Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: List What You Remember in A Draft Urgently

The general rule when incidents happen at work is to report it. Moreover, file it within 24 hours because taking it too long might have you forget some details already. It is smart when the memory is still fresh since everything is still clear. Before reporting, list down the details in a draft first. Do not expect to make a perfect report by writing continuously without looking back at what you wrote. At least drafts still have room for mistakes that you omit on the real deal.

Step 2: Transfer Information from the Draft and to a Template

Have you finished with your draft already? Take out bits, particularly the most essential parts, from that draft. Transfer such important details onto an incident report form template. At this point, only the relevant information that reports the incident must be written. Other statements that are not helping will only cause ineffectiveness to the document. Some small bits that still help shape up the whole episode are still worth adding though. And since you can tweak the templates, aim to adjust the format as well until the final presentation is at its best version.

Step 3: Be Clear in Providing the Details

Do not aimlessly copy and paste the transferring process from a draft to the template. Write clearly instead. As a start, describe incidents in the first-person narrative. That means progressive narratives are welcome here. That way, reading and understanding become much more comfortable. Also, answer the five Ws and one H questions to save this part. And can you still recall the incident report elements explained before? Those are from the basic information to the supervisor’s signature. Yes, incorporate those factors into the form until you complete a detailed report. Another thing why clarity helps is due to how people get the message. Authorities might assume the incident is fatal and needs emergency healthcare based on the exaggerated descriptions written there, yet it is only a nonfatal incident.

Step 4: Organize Your Report Carefully

Indeed, putting the smallest details that are still pertinent to the matter is highly encouraged. However, placing all information without a sense of organization or arrangement makes matters worse. Keep things organized to deliver the message smoothly. Another idea is by sequencing events. Describe what happened first to last, rather than making the sequence confusing. If arranged, the ones reading the report would be sure which occurred first. Furthermore, proofread everything if there is a need to simplify words, correct details, and others.

Step 5: Validate the Report

Making an unverified report is a big failure. Maybe there is not enough evidence that the incident is real. To prove it, add graphic charts, sketches, pictures, and videos. Or perhaps, quote the witnesses directly. The problem with those who rephrase statements is when the interpretation is too far from the gist. To be safe and to avoid liabilities, mention direct quotes from witnesses instead. Maybe a security guard, cashier, and more witnessed the situation. Or maybe, anyone from the police, medical staff, or fire department has a say about the incident. Finally, sign the form when done.


What is an example of an incident report form?

Incident reports have tons of examples depending on the context. If the concern is about safety and security incidents, then examples include theft, assault, and property damage. No matter which example is involved, define this in the report clearly.

Are police reports and incident reports different?

Police reports are more focused on sequencing crimes that took place, particularly an arrest. Meanwhile, incident reports outline what happened in a particular incident. Thus, the two are different.

How can employees be engaged to report incidents?

Employers should form an employment contract or agreement to report incident-related issues and avoid such incidents next time. And make the report forms accessible, like preparing online forms, so reporting does not have to take too long to complete.

After knowing that it only takes seconds for possible incidents to happen everywhere, be conscious of the time in reporting. Indeed, you write the report quickly by also not leaving out the essential information. With urgency, all the incident details are still fresh, making it easy to remember. However, time management helps to ensure you are not rushing your report as it might end up having too many errors. And since you know the basics and the detailed 411 about incident report forms, take a moment to fill out our sample templates now.