If you are new to the field of environmental, health and safety, writing your first health and safety report can be terrifying. Questions like, “Where do I begin? What if I say something wrong? What format should I use? Does someone have a template I can use?
What kind of Health and Safety Report can I be expected to write
- Accident investigations;
- Industrial hygiene studies such as exposure assessments;
- EH&S audit reports;
- Engineering control studies, such as containment validation or surrogate monitoring studies;
- Occupational toxicology reports;
- Potent compound safety assessments (in the pharmaceutical industry); and
- Many others.
Composing a high-quality health and safety report takes time and it takes practice.
A Quality Health and Safety Report Starts with Determining Your Audience
When writing a quality health and safety report, start by gaining an understanding of who is your audience. If the report is going to other health and safety professionals with years of experience, they will likely understand all the terminology and acronyms. If the health and safety report is going to management, they will want to understand what are the business risks. And, if it is going to the employees then you may have to reduce the technical content down a level or two. Whoever the primary audience is going to be, write for them.
A Quality Health and Safety Report is Based on Facts
Once you have determined your audience, the next step in composing a high-quality health and safety report is to collect all the facts. Ask yourself the questions like:
What is the data that you know for certain?
What were your direct observations?
When writing a health and safety report I alway like to write sentences that state facts. Sentences such as, “At the time of the health and safety assessment, three of the four employees were not wearing hardhats.” Again base everything on facts. If it is an opinion, state so. If you are referring to outside information or second-hand information, always cite those references or sources to support your information.
A Quality Health and Safety Report has a Conclusion
Get to your point! Don’t ramble on in a meaningless manner. Present your facts, how you collected those facts, and end with a conclusion that makes a point and describe any recommended actions that must be made. Don’t feel driven to write a lengthy report just because you want to impress your manager (they won’t be).
A Quality Health and Safety Report Always Contain an Executive Summary
Everyone is very busy these days. With the speed and amount of information that everyone is expected to mentally process on a daily basis, we need some help in understanding the point. Write an executive summary and get to your point quickly. The executive summary may be the only thing that ever gets read. However, just make sure that the executive summary is consistent with the conclusion in the body of your health and safety report.
Use EHS Software to track your Health and Safety Reports and Corrective Actions
Any corrective actions that are recommended in your health and safety report, must be tracked to close out. Often this is not the case. Health and safety reports get written, reviewed, and filed and no one acts on them. This presents a huge liability for the company. Follow-up on everything. Use EHS software to ensure the ball doesn’t get dropped.