In the U.S., a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds.
Incident reports sometimes seem like needless paperwork, but they’re a crucial part of workplace safety. Recording the circumstances under which a workplace incident occurred allows us to see when, how, and why it happened.
According to numbers from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019. On average, that’s over 100 deaths per week. Workplace incident reports showed that over 1,000 of those worker fatalities (around 20%) were in the construction industry.
Below, we’ll look at why incident reporting systems are essential for workers and employers alike and how we can improve reporting to enhance worker safety.
What is an incident report?
An incident report is a formal document that records the facts related to a workplace accident and/or injury, property damage, or a security incident. The primary purpose of a construction incident report is to understand the conditions and circumstances that led up to the event so similar incidents can be prevented in the future. Companies may use the document to improve safety protocols, but it may also be sent to insurers, regulatory bodies, or the police.
Most companies have incident report form templates to ensure reporters record the specific information necessary to evaluate the event. However, OSHA has an Injury and Illness Report Form (OSHA Form 301) that can be used as well. Any employer that creates their own forms must also include items from the OSHA form.
Workplace incidents can be traumatic, even if they are near-misses, so it’s critical to have a template that reminds the worker, site manager, or safety officer filling out the report to capture as much information as possible without delay.
Why incident reporting is necessary
It is necessary to complete an incident report because the information contained within helps workers, their employers, and OSHA evaluates the safety of a worksite. When the data from multiple reports are combined, everyone gets a better idea of the most common industry hazards and their consequences so they can be reduced or eliminated.
OSHA requires employers with more than 10 employees to submit their incident reports (or regular summaries) from any serious work-related injuries or illnesses. However, some low-risk industries are exempt, and minor injuries do not require a record.
Employers must maintain their incident report records for a minimum of 5 years and post a summary of the injuries and illnesses from the previous year. Current and former employees or their representatives may request these records as well.
Incident reports are used to measure and rate an employer’s safety performance. This rating can serve as an important metric for employees, regulatory agencies, and insurers to consider when assessing a company’s commitment to keeping workers healthy and safe.
The 4 main types of incident reports
While many factors go into being harmed on the job, there are typically 4 categories of incident reports.
In cases where no one was injured, but an event took place in which they might have been, a “near-miss” report is filed. While some people are hesitant to file reports in the absence of injury, these ensure that “near-misses” never become real risks.
Injury and Lost Time Incident Reports
These reports record injuries that result in a worker losing hours. These events need to be reported quickly, so the risk is removed for others when possible. These incident reports include the details of the event, the possible causes, and any actions implemented to remove the risk going forward.
Exposure Incident Report
Whether a disease (such as COVID-19) or a harmful chemical or other substance, when workers are exposed to things that may make them sick or disabled on the job, safety professionals much file a report. These reports help agencies keep track of exposures that can spread to other workers or people off-site as well.
Sentinel Event Report
Sentinel event reports are filed when a worker is seriously and permanently injured or killed on the job. The sentinel events are generally unexpected and can include natural disasters, disease outbreaks, slips and falls, being struck by a vehicle, etc. It’s mandatory to report these incidents.
Using a contractor management system to digitize and safely store incident reports
Unless someone is badly harmed on the job, some employers, managers, and employees are hesitant to file incident reports. This is because reports require a slowdown or work stoppage and extra paperwork.
Because incident reporting systems keep the workplace safe, it’s important to find a way to make reporting less cumbersome so that employers and regulators can collect the data they need. Using a contractor management system like the software from Sine gives job site managers multiple ways to easily collect data for storage and reporting.
The Sine Pro mobile app makes it simple to have contractors and other visitors scan a QR code and upload the details of any incidents they experienced while on a job site using. Sine’s software can be configured to ask visitors a list of questions before they leave the site, including whether or not they were involved in a reportable incident. The system also includes location-specific checklists so workers and visitors can ensure a site is safe in advance and reduce the risk of incidents altogether. The system can even send out warnings and other alerts to those on-site.
Sine’s comprehensive dashboard makes recording, storing, and automatically reporting relevant information easily. That way, site managers can identify peak times, places, and potentially dangerous circumstances and take care of any threats before injuries (or worse) occur.