How to Write a Good Accident or Incident Report

An incident report needs to include all the essential information about the accident or near-miss. The report-writing process begins with fact finding and ends with recommendations for preventing future accidents.

You may use a special incident reporting form, and it might be quite extensive. But writing any incident report involves four basic steps, and those are the focus of today’s post.

1. Find the Facts

To prepare for writing an accident report, you have to gather and record all the facts. For example:

· Date, time, and specific location of incident

· Names, job titles, and department of employees involved and immediate supervisor(s)

· Names and accounts of witnesses

· Events leading up to incident

· Exactly what employee was doing at the moment of the accident

· Environmental conditions (e.g. slippery floor, inadequate lighting, noise, etc.)

· Circumstances (including tasks, equipment, tools, materials, PPE, etc.)

· Specific injuries (including part(s) of body injured and nature and extent of injuries)

· Type of treatment for injuries

· Damage to equipment, materials, etc.

2. Determine the Sequence

Based on the facts, you should be able to determine the sequence of events. In your report, describe this sequence in detail, including:

· Events leading up to the incident. Was the employee walking, running, bending over, squatting, climbing, lifting operating machinery, pushing a broom, turning a valve, using a tool, handling hazardous materials, etc.?

· Events involved in the incident. Was the employee struck by an object or caught in/on/between objects? Did the worker fall on the same level or from a height? Did the employee inhale hazardous vapors or get splashed with a hazardous chemical?

· Events immediately following the incident. What did the employee do: Grab a knee? Start limping? Hold his/her arm? Complain about back pain? Put a hand over a bleeding wound? Also describe how other co-workers responded. Did they call for help, administer first aid, shut down equipment, move the victim, etc.?

The incident should be described on the report in sufficient detail that any reader can clearly picture what happened. You might consider creating a diagram to show, in a simple and visually effective manner, the sequence of events related to the incident and include this in your incident report. You might also wish to include photos of the accident scene, which may help readers follow the sequence of events.

3. Analyze

Your report should include an in-depth analysis of the causes of the accident. Causes include:

· Primary cause (e.g., a spill on the floor that caused a slip and fall)

· Secondary causes (e.g., employee not wearing appropriate work shoes or carrying a stack of material that blocked vision)

· Other contributing factors (e.g., burned out light bulb in the area).

4. Recommend

Recommendations for corrective action might include immediate corrective action as well as long-term corrective actions such as:

· Employee training on safe work practices

· Preventive maintenance activities that keep equipment in good operating condition

· Evaluation of job procedures with a recommendation for changes

· Conducting a job hazard analysis to evaluate the task for any other hazards and then train employees on these hazards

· Engineering changes that make the task safer or administrative changes that might include changing the way the task is performed

“Just The Facts About GHS”

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is a hot topic of discussion, both domestically and internationally. The adoption of GHS by OSHA has already had and will continue to have profound effects on chemical data management initiatives, both for companies that must author and publish material safety data sheets (MSDS) for their chemical products, as well as those companies that must manage (M)SDS and related chemical data for onsite chemical inventories.

With all of the information and change swirling about GHS, we’re presenting “just the facts” in this easy-to-digest Infographic about what you need to know about GHS. Enjoy and share with your colleagues in and out of the EHS profession!


“The US EPA Is Improving Public Access to (YOUR) Environmental Inspection and Compliance Data”


Compliance - US EPA 2015-02-09 17-47-05

Marion Herz, the Chief of Staff for EPA’s Office of Compliance, just blogged that EPA has launched a new compliance website to “make it easier to stay informed about our work and to share tools that can help companies and others follow the law.”

Herz notes that the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database “lets you analyze compliance and enforcement data through dashboards, maps and charts. It also gives you access to other EPA tools designed to identify pollution sources, including greenhouse gases, wastewater discharges and toxic chemicals.”

Another related recent EPA blog discusses the Agency’s recent updates to the ECHO database, which provides information about environmental inspections, violations, and enforcement actions for EPA-regulated facilities. “As one of our most important and popular resources, ECHO houses information about more than 800,000 facilities nationwide, and last year, it was visited more than 2 million times.” Emphasis added.

Significant updates to ECHO include the ability for anyone with access to the Internet to download data to analyze violations at any of the 800,000 ECHO facilities, which data is now updated within the week.

With this now ever expanding and broadening release and publication of individual facility environmental inspection and compliance data, it is important that responsible company representatives are accessing and monitoring what the Agency is posting on your facilities. The data, hopefully, will not be a surprise (though in some cases it may likely be), but errors in data transmission and uploading are inevitable, and corrections should possibly be submitted and documented in company files. Consider whether it is important that your company data be reflected accurately online by the Agency, and take steps to monitor and correct erroneous data if is the case.

Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” – Dedicated To Children’s Safety – #MakeSafeHappen

Safety took center stage during Super Bowl XLIX thanks to Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” commercial.

The spot, which featured a little boy who died from a preventable accident, was designed to be jarring in order to “start a conversation,” Nationwide said.

“I’ll never learn to ride a bike. Or get cooties. I’ll never learn to fly. Or travel the world with my best friend. And I won’t ever get married,” the child says. “I couldn’t grow up because I died from an accident.”

Nationwide released a statement after the ad aired in response to the strong audience reaction:

Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us—the safety and well-being of our children. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions. In fact, thousands of people visited, a new website to help educate parents and caregivers with information and resources in an effort to make their homes safer and avoid a potential injury or death. Nationwide has been working with experts for more than 60 years to make homes safer. While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere.

Read the rest of the story here:

Read about the iOS  App here:

MakeSafeHappen on the App Store on iTunes 2015-02-04 16-24-33

Source: EHS Today & Nationwide Insurance®

OSHA “Winter Storm Safety”

Winter storms create a variety of hazards and can have lingering impacts on everyday tasks and work activities. According to the National Weather Service, about 70 percent of injuries during winter storms result from vehicle accidents, and about 25 percent of injuries result from being caught out in the storm. Learning about how to prepare for a winter storm and avoid hazards when one occurs will help keep you safe during the winter season.

Employer Responsibilities and Workers’ Rights

Each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the winter storm response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct.

OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers. The OSHA at a Glance [117 KB PDF*, 3 pages] publication provides information on the strategies and programs OSHA uses to promote worker safety and health. For additional information on Workers’ Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA’s Compliance Assistance Page, Workers Page and Publications.

It is important to monitor weather sources to be informed when a winter storm is possible and to be familiar with the terms used to describe the likelihood, immediacy, and conditions of a potential storm. The box below provides information on the types of winter storm watches and warnings.

Winter storm watch: Be alert, a storm is likely.

Winter weather advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.

Frost/freeze warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees.

Winter storm warning: Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.

Blizzard warning: Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill–seek refuge immediately.

Wind chill: Wind chill is an estimation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides multiple ways to stay informed about winter storms.

NOAA Weather Radio is a network of radio stations that continuously broadcast weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office. The NOAAWatch website also provides information on the weather outlook.

If you are notified of a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities.

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season

If you must drive during a winter storm, it is important to prepare your vehicle to reduce the chances of a weather-related incident and to prepare an emergency kit.

During the winter season, it is advisable to maintain at least a half tank of gas in the vehicle. Inspect the vehicle to ensure the following systems are operating properly:

  • Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
  • Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
  • Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
  • Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
  • Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.
  • Oil: Check that oil is at proper level.
  • Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

Also carry an emergency kit in the vehicle with the following items:

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Cellular telephone or two-way radio
  • Windshield scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with fresh/extra batteries
  • Extra winter clothes
  • Shovel
  • Tow chain
  • Matches
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps

For more information, see the National Safety Council’s Winter, Your Car and You [45 KB PDF, 2 pages]. (2009, April).

Response & Recovery

While most workers can stay inside during a winter storm, some workers may be required to go into the storm. These may include utility workers; law enforcement personnel; firefighters; emergency medical personnel; federal, state and local government personnel; military personnel; highway personnel; and sanitation workers.

Some of the hazards associated with working in winter storms include:

Driving/Vehicle Hazards

For information about driving safely during winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving sheet.

What should I do if a winter storm strands me in my vehicle?

Stay in the vehicle. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow. Display a trouble sign by hanging a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raising the hood. Turn on the vehicle’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour and run the heat to keep warm. Also, turn on the vehicle’s dome light when the vehicle is running as an additional signal. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the vehicle, take turns sleeping. For warmth, huddle together. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation. Avoid overexertion since cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

What is frostbite?

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that causes freezing in the deep layers of skin and tissue. Frostbite can cause permanent damage. It is recognizable by a loss of feeling and a waxy-white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes. For more information, see OSHA’s Cold Stress Safety and Health Guide, or OSHA’s publication, The Cold Stress Equation (also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages).

What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to less than 95°F. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion. For more information, see OSHA’s Cold Stress Safety and Health Guide, or OSHA’s publication, The Cold Stress Equation (also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages).

What can be done to avoid frostbite and hypothermia?

· Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

· Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help those who are affected.

· Train the workforce about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.

· Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions.

· Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin (polypropylene).

· Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.

· Perform work during the warmest part of the day.

· Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.

· Use the buddy system (work in pairs).

· Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.

· Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.

Who is at increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia?

Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods – the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. Victims may also include people with predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension, people that take certain medication (check with your healthcare provider and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments), and people in poor physical condition or who have a poor diet. For more information, see A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.

How do I treat a person with frostbite or hypothermia?

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person’s trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Shoveling Snow

What hazards are associated with activities to shoveling snow?

Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be taxing on the body, and can create the potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks. In addition to following the tips for avoiding frostbite and hypothermia, such as taking frequent breaks and drinking fluids (while avoiding ones with caffeine or alcohol), there are a variety of other precautions workers can take to avoid injuries while removing snow. Workers should warm-up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time, push the snow instead of lifting where possible, and user proper form if lifting is necessary: keeping the back straight and lifting with the legs.

Slips and Falls

How do I walk safely on snow and ice?

Where appropriate, clear walking surfaces of snow and ice and use salt or its equivalent. In addition, the following precautions will help reduce the likelihood of any injuries:

· Walking on snow or ice is especially treacherous and wearing proper footwear is essential. A pair of well insulated boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months.

· When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.

· When walking on a sidewalk which has not been cleared and you must walk in the street, walk against the traffic and as close to the curb as you can.

· Be on the lookout for vehicles which may have lost traction and are slipping towards you. Be aware that approaching vehicles may not be able to stop at crosswalks or traffic signals.

· At night, wear bright clothing or reflective gear, as dark clothing will make it difficult for motorists to see you.

· During the daytime, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.

Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines and Removing Downed Trees

What hazards are associated with repairing downed or damaged power lines?

The work activities involved with repairing downed or damaged lines entail many of the activities involved in installing and removing overhead lines and in general maintenance on overhead lines. The crucial difference is that in emergency conditions, such as winter storms, there are unknown hazards and the potential for changing hazards as work progresses. Under these conditions workers must be extra vigilant and cautious.

Potential hazards include:

· Electrocution by contacting downed energized lines, or contacting objects, such as broken tree limbs, in contact with fallen lines.

· Falls from heights.

· Being struck or crushed by falling poles, towers or parts thereof, tree limbs, ice accumulation on lines, towers and poles.

· Being injured in vehicular accidents when responding to an emergency situation.

· Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure.

What protective measures should be utilized when working on or around downed or damaged power lines?

Assume all power lines are energized and stay well clear of any downed or damaged power lines. Establish a safe distance from the lines and report the incident to the responsible authority. Only properly-trained electrical utility workers should handle damaged power lines.

Electrical utility workers should first assess the hazards present in order to minimize the chances of exacerbating the situation. Ideally the lines involved should be de-energized, but this may not be possible in all situations.

When working on downed or damaged power lines, electrical workers should utilize proper electrical safety work practices and personal protective equipment, as usual. However, as mentioned previously, extra caution should be exercised when working in winter storms, due to the adverse conditions present.

What hazards exist during removal of downed trees during a winter storm, and what safety precautions should be taken?

Clearing downed trees is a critical job during a winter storm. When winter storms occur, downed trees can block public roads and damage power lines. Emergency crews are often sent out to clear downed trees during a winter storm.

Potential hazards include:

· Electrocution by contacting downed energized lines or contacting broken tree limbs in contact with fallen lines.

· Falls from trees.

· Being struck or crushed by falling tree limbs or ice.

· Being injured by emergency equipment such as chain saws and chippers.

Proper PPE including gloves, chaps, foot protection, eye protection, fall protection, hearing protection and head protection should be worn by workers using chainsaws and chippers to clear downed trees.

Only appropriate power equipment that is built to be used outdoors and in wet conditions should be used. All saws, chippers, and other tools should be used properly and according to their intended application. It is important that all equipment is well-maintained and functioning correctly in order for use. In addition, all equipment should have proper guarding, working controls, and other safety features as installed by the manufacturer.

Powered Equipment and Snow Blowers

What are the potential hazards of using powered equipment and snow blowers, and what precautions should be taken?

It is important to make sure that powered equipment, such as chain saws or other power tools, are properly grounded. When performing maintenance or cleaning, make sure that the equipment is properly guarded and is disconnected from power sources.

Snow blowers commonly cause lacerations or amputations when operators attempt to clear jams. Never attempt to clear a jam by hand. First, turn the machine off and wait five seconds, and then use a long stick to clear wet snow or debris from the machine. Keep your hands and feet away from moving parts. Additionally, refuel a snow blower prior to starting the machine; do not add fuel to a running or hot engine.

Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights

Following a winter storm, workers should employ standard protections when working at heights and should also be aware of the potential for unexpected hazards due to the weather. Employers should provide and ensure the use of fall protection and provide and maintain ladders. In addition, workers should use caution around surfaces that have been weighed down by snow, as they may collapse. For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow From Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces.

Additional Resources:

Winter Storms and Extreme Cold. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Cold Stress Equation. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages.

Cold Stress Safety and Health Guide. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Winter Storm. American Red Cross.

Winter Weather Safety and Awareness. National Weather Service.

Winter Weather. NOAAWatch – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Winter Weather. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Winter, Your Car and You [45 KB PDF, 2 pages]. National Safety Council (NSC), (2009, April).

Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety. US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC Checklist: Winter Weather Supplies for Your Car. Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving (PDF). National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

Cold Stress. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Cold Stress (PDF). National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH)

NOAA Weather Radio. A network of radio stations that continuously broadcast weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Outdoor Safety Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Winter Weather Checklists Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Winter Your Car and You. National Safety Council (NSC), (2009, April)

NIOSH Climate Change and Occupational Safety and Health Topics


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