What Is a Maintenance Incident Report?

October 6, 2022

A maintenance incident report is a record of an incident, investigation details, and actions taken in response to the incident. If you’re about to prepare your first incident report, read this post to learn more about these crucial reports and when and how you should write one.

What Is an Incident Report?

An incident report is a document containing a write-up of an adverse event that may have damaged an asset or injured a person, the resulting root cause analysis, a step-by-step description of the investigation, and corrective actions to eliminate the cause.

The scope of an incident report also can include potential health and safety issues, inappropriate staff behavior in the workplace, security loopholes and breaches, and any related close-call incidents.

“OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents in which a worker was hurt, as well as close calls . . . in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances had been slightly different.”

OSHA

In the past, an “accident report” detailed an unplanned, unwanted event. But OSHA no longer likes the term “accident,” which may have suggested that an event was “random and could not have been prevented.” According to OSHA, however,  because “nearly all worksite fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable, OSHA suggests using the term ‘incident’….” 

Maintenance incident report

Why Do You Need a Maintenance Incident Report?

Incident reports are records of incident details, allowing stakeholders to gather the information needed to understand the incident. An incident report helps the following entities:

Stakeholders

Stakeholders may use the report to organize a training program to help staff members understand how to avoid similar incidents in the future. They also can use the incident report to brainstorm preventive measures to re-engineer processes, improve working conditions, and even create safety infographics at the site of the incident. A company’s Human Resources department also needs to keep track of all personnel incidents and can use such reports to build a safety culture company wide.

Lawyers

The incident report is admissible in a court of law. If the incident caused a person significant injury or major property damage, they might claim damages. When you go to trial, an incident report will help you quickly recall the chain of events and help establish facts in court.

OSHA

In several cases, OSHA requires employers to maintain a record of incidents for at least five years. The best way to ensure you are storing all the necessary incident reports and documents and will have access to them when needed is by using a mobile-friendly CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) like MaintainX.

MaintainX simplifies writing incident reports with its incident report checklists. Instead of storing physical copies of incident reports in file cabinets, your team can fill in the details online using MaintainX’s incident report forms.

All the staff needs to do is take action based on the checklist. MaintainX will automatically generate the report in real-time and save it in your cloud-based records. Also, consider using the following free template checklists when or before an incident occurs:

  • Incident investigation checklist: Helps outline the investigation process and automatically documents the incident investigation process as staff and co-workers complete the steps in the checklist.
  • Health and risk assessment checklist: Helps identify health or safety hazards at the worksite. The checklist offers valuable inputs for your risk management strategy and safety program so you can provide a safer work environment to your employees.
maintenance incident report

Offer Incident Report Training

Incident report training empowers your teams to act quickly. Employees need absolute clarity in the reporting process so they can report incidents immediately, allowing the investigation and resolution process to move faster.

When training staff, you want to help them be clear about three critical questions, as discussed below.

1. What Is Considered an Incident?

An incident is an adverse event that negatively influences one or more aspects of a business, including the well-being of the staff and the efficiency of processes. Here is an inclusive list of events that you should consider an incident to report:

  • Anything that jeopardizes employee well-being, whether mental or physical.
  • An event that may negatively impact the business’s efficiency, profitability, or other interests.
  • Identification of a potential risk that may lead to either of the above events.

2. When to Write an Incident Report?

Not all incidents call for writing an incident report, but it’s best to err on the side of reporting an event. As a general principle, if you have to ask whether you should report a particular incident, it’s best to go ahead and report it. Create an incident report even for minor incidents because though they may seem trivial, they can help avert a major workplace incident in the future.

Also, as a general guideline, you should fill in the report within 24 hours of learning about the incident or within 8 hours of a severe employee incident. Here are events for which you definitely need to write an incident report:

Sentinel Events

Sentinel events are unexpected adverse events that cause severe physical or mental injury or death. Common examples include an employee tripping on wet stairs at a construction site or a person getting in a road accident when transporting goods.

Exposure Events

Exposure events occur when a person is exposed to a harmful substance or organism on the worksite. Common examples include exposure to carbon monoxide, radiation, or COVID-19.

Near-Miss Events

Near-miss events are close calls, in which a sentinel or exposure event could have occurred. Reporting near-miss events ensures stakeholder accountability. Stakeholders are more likely to investigate the event’s cause and make changes to prevent an actual adverse event from occurring when an incident is reported.

No-Harm Events

No-harm events make the potential for an adverse event apparent. Reporting a no-harm event helps stakeholders identify a potential adverse event and make appropriate changes to eliminate or minimize such an event’s probability.

incident report

3. How to Write an Incident Report?

An incident report should include details regarding the event. The list below outlines what to include in an incident report: 

  • Primary information: Location and date and time of the incident.
  • Cause: The root cause of the incident.
  • Injured persons: Name, job title, and department of the injured persons. If the person wasn’t a staff member, identify the person with their name, the reasons they were on the worksite, and any other relevant information.
  • Injury or damage: If a physical injury, the type and severity of the injury and the affected body part. If the incident damaged equipment, not a person, list the damaged assets or specific parts.
  • Witnesses: Names of people present at the incident site at the time of the incident.
  • Treatment: The medical treatment, if any, provided to the injured person and by whom.
  • Story: The complete details describing the incident.

This list of details is pretty generic. Add additional items depending on the event you’re reporting.

Before you grab a pen and paper, rethink your incident reporting process. In fact, OSHA requires businesses to submit injury and illness reports digitally. In some cases, you also may need to store the report for five years—that’s one more reason to digitize OSHA compliance. That’s where MaintainX comes in.

Write Incident Reports Using MaintainX

A CMMS like MaintainX makes incident reporting and recordkeeping easy. You get a headstart with MaintainX’s incident report templates. These sample templates include checklists of incident reporting tasks. As staff completes these reports, MaintainX automatically stores the data and generates a digital incident report. You also can edit these checklists to make them more applicable to your business.

Incident reporting is one of the many functionalities you get with MaintainX. For example, MaintainX can help automate workflows, create and monitor preventive maintenance programs, and follow up with your maintenance team on tasks, all directly from the MaintainX app. If that sounds interesting, try MaintainX—it’s free.

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Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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