7 Tips for writing an effective Incident report

security-guard incident reportA security guard position is a job that requires many more skills than just watching over a monitor or standing in front of a door, looking intimidating. As a security guard, you will use your various skills to prevent situations from occurring and diffuse them if they should get out of hand. If a situation arises, you’ll likely find yourself tapping into a broad array of physical and mental skills with regards to trespassing, volatile behavior, any number of emergencies and other irregular incidents. Though it may often seem like there is so much to say about a certain shift or situation that you’ve encountered, there are several key factors to ensuring that your reports are consistent, accurate and succinct.

  1. Keep it Simple: This refers to formatting, language and overall style. Clear, concise sentences and basic bulleted lists (when applicable) are all you should need to adequately convey your information. Choose a neutral, professional font, unless otherwise specified, and stick to it. Consistency is key to proper communication and for presenting yourself as a capable, organized employee.
  2. Who: The person or people involved in your report are obviously at the heart of the story/summary that you are reporting, so be sure to establish them with as much detail as possible (i.e., if a full name isn’t available, use descriptive terms to paint a picture to whoever is reading the report). Also, be sure to mention any policemen, firemen or other official personnel who were present.
  3. What: In as few sentences as possible, offer a summary of what took place (i.e., mild pushing and shoving between two people outside of the club escalated into a fight involving many more).
  4. Where: This is key to establishing a location of an event or incident, so be as specific as possible; the name of a venue or business is good, but go a step further if possible and provide supporting details (i.e., the lower back patio).
  5. Why: The catalyst behind most incidents that will need your attention will forever be a source of varying stories and overlapping accounts of what happened – and more importantly, why.
  6. When: The time of an incident is perhaps the grounding force in solidifying hazy details or backing up multiple accounts of a story. Be sure to offer as detailed a timeline as possible.
  7. How: This is the tricky part, tying it all together; your firsthand version of everything may be the blueprint that law enforcement or your superiors are using to gain clarity on what you are telling them, so before you begin your overview, make sure you are clear-headed and confident in the information you are providing. If you are unsure of something, use an asterisk or parentheses to make an official note of your uncertainty, and offer what you can to clarify the possibilities.

Safety Incident report

The responsibility of writing up a safety incident report is usually the job of the management “Head of Safety” department, but in a smaller company any member of management may be assigned the task. Additionally, in a “Union Shop” the union will have an authorized person to also write up a report.

These reports are no small matter as to remain within compliance of OSHA standards and regulations, these forms must be completed and kept on file for an OSHA investigation or review.

Maintaining compliance with the law not with standing, the real issue is there has been an accident and an injury to an employee. Technically any injury is an OSHA recordable, even if it’s not actually work related. For instance should an employee buy candy from the break area’s vending machine and subsequently breaks a tooth chewing it, it is an OSHA recordable.

The steps pertaining to writing a detailed and accurate safety incident report, unless there’s a catastrophic failure resulting in multiple injuries or death, are not really that difficult, especially if you have pre-printed forms and are only required to fill in the blanks. Without any forms a logical ” 5 whys?” approach is quite sufficient. Why did the accident happen? Where did the accident happen? Who did the accident happen to? What can be done to prevent the accident from happening again? What has been done to correct the hazard?

For a normal incident, answering the five questions accurately and in as much detail as you reasonably can, will suffice.

Here is a typical hypothetical response to an accident without serious injury and no remaining danger being posed to anyone.

Go to the accident scene and calmly review the area, looking for obvious signs of the accident and where it occurred. Interview the person(s) involved in the accident. Do not act like the Gestapo while performing this investigation or else you’ll never get the truth of what happened. You’re not there to judge or issue punishment, you’re there to insure the employees are alright and to prevent this type of accident ever occurring again.

After interviewing the accident victims, interview any witnesses to the event. Ask for written statements from everybody involved, but don’t expect much new information. Most people will verbalize more information than write.

Finish reviewing your notes and take one final review of the accident scene before going back to the office to write the incident report. Write the report, even if it’s a rough draft, immediately while facts are fresh in your mind. You may not think you’ll forget anything by tomorrow, but I can just about guarantee you, you will.

Answer the 5 why questions.
* Who was involved. Joe Smith; fork truck driver
* What happen? Driver backed into a hole exposed because a floor grate was missing.
* Why did this happen? Maintenance forgot to replace the grate when finished working on the pipes below.
* What will correct this hazard? Reinstruct maintenance personnel to always replace floor grates when finished working.
* What has been done to correct the hazard? The floor grate has been reinstalled.

For a standard safety incident report this type of investigation and reported results would fulfill any requirement posed by law.

Standards for Incident reports

Problem Statement

After an Incident on a project or work site has occurred, operators or trade personnel are often the only people who have witnessed the incident. Therefore, it is important to capture the facts without personal judgments. This allows further and more in depth investigations after the incident.

Current practice is, witnesses are either

  • interviewed by a skilled professional and the verbal witness account is interpreted, or
  • they are asked to write their observations down in form of an incident report in their own words.

Practical Approach:

This paper provides a simple guideline and tool for operators and trade people to report observations and facts immediately after the incident.

  • Benefit 1 Facts are reported while they are fresh in people’s minds.
  • Benefit 2 Following a structured process reduces emotional and opinionated reporting.
  • Benefit 3 The factual report can be used as a basis in a later interview by professional investigators.


To avoid the attribution of blame it is important to stick to the facts and keep emotions to a minimum. A typical human reaction if someone is accused of something is, the accused person becomes defensive and brings up arguments why it was someone else’s fault.

Therefore, it is important to keep the initial reporting factual and objective and without allocating blame.




To keep the investigation as much as possible free from human personality issues, the focus should be on the following factual reporting headlines:

Details of person reporting:

  • Name, your contact details
  • Type of activity carried out
  • Your location
  • Contact details of your Supervisor

Time and Location:

  • Time and date of the incident
  • Location of the incident, i.e. Stacker Reclaimer 5, Elevator Platform (hand drawn sketch)

To whom was the incident first reported:

  • Name of person
  • Position of the person i.e. Supervisor, Superintendent
  • Time and date of reporting

How was the incident reported:

  • Phone call
  • E-mail
  • Face to face conversation

Was anyone injured:

  • Type of Medical response
  • Ambulance
  • On site first aid

Damage to the plant


  • Weather, i.e. rain, sunny, windy (or any combination)
  • Light
  • Daylight
  • Sun glare
  • Plant lights on,
  • Lights not working (identify what lights have been off)

Description of the incident:

  • Keep to the facts (do not speculate)
  • Other personnel actively involved:
  • E.g. maintenance personnel carrying out repair work
  • Record name and if known contact details
  • Other personnel nearby:
  • Names and contact details should be recorded
  • Other people’s witness account should not be included
  • All witnesses should record their own observations

Safety and Hazards:

Type of:

  • Safety barriers
  • Warning tags
  • Out of service tags
  • Isolation Locks

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) required for the location

  • PPE used.
  • Spillage of material
  • Trip hazards

State of the plant/equipment:

  • i.e. normal operation, Shutdown, start-up or stopped
  • Equipment Isolations:
  • Equipment isolated

Any other observations:

  • Scaffolding
  • Cranes

Procedures or work instructions applicable

Any other on first sight unrelated occurrences, i.e. unusual machine noise or excavations in the area. If possible pictures should be taken.


For the initial report writing the above should be used as a guideline.

If some of the headlines are not applicable they should not be left out, they should be marked for example as: “no observation”, “no other person nearby”, or “equipment was not isolated”.

This is important, because the person reading the report does not know – “there was no other person nearby” or if it was just an oversight to write it down.


To avoid the attribution of blame it is important to stick to the facts and keep emotions to a minimum. A typical human reaction if someone is accused of something is, the accused person becomes defensive and brings up arguments why it was someone else’s fault.

Therefore, it is important to keep the initial reporting factual and objective and without allocating blame.

Importance of Security Guard Incidence Reports

Many clients hire security guards to mitigate certain risk factors inherent to their industry, site location or business. They know that an incident that might endanger their property or employees will happen at some point, therefore the hire a security guard to be well prepared. Now it becomes the security company’s responsibility to prepare the security officer well for the instance that an incident happens. The security officer must be able to make quick and good decisions and be able to properly observe and report.

In my many years as security consultants, I have been called to the site of an incident to assist the security officer. Most of the time the security will have made great decisions and ensured the safety of property and people, but when I ask them for their incident report they will lack important details. Every security officer should be trained repeatedly and frequently on what to do in case of an incident. They should also be trained to read the full incident report and provide all the information required.

The incident report should be devised by an experienced security professional, who has faced all kinds of different incidents himself. He should understand the importance of the information compiled on the incident report. The police will use the incident report to find witnesses, therefore names and addresses of witnesses should be written down. Many times incident reports will be used by insurances and courts, therefore the incident should be described chronologically and with exact times and locations as much as possible. Possible perpetrators should be described with as much detail as possible. If authorities are called, the name of the leading officer and the police report number should be obtained.

The security officer should protect himself by recording the time he called authorities and the name of the person he talked to, time and name of the person he talked to representing the client and time and name of the supervisor he talked to. All the information named above will make it easier for the client to get a clear picture of what happened and respond accordingly. It will me it easier to prosecute a perpetrator, get reimbursed for loss by the insurance and to sue somebody in court if necessary.

The security guard employed at any location for a security company should understand his obligation and have the necessary skills to write a detailed incident report. He should also be explained why an incident report is important and what it will be used for. The incident report will absolutely make a great difference for the client and the security guard. While the security officer might respond perfectly when faced with a dangerous situation he will have failed the client when not obtaining the address of an important witness or the description of a potential perpetrator.Incident reports should be written immediately, because they will become the most important piece of evidence for the client.

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