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The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Effective Internal Incident Reports

visual of a broken glass window from the inside looking out

Given the complexity of property management, it should come as no surprise that unexpected events happen. When such an event includes damage to a person or property, that event is called an incident.

After an incident, it's critically important for the property manager to write an incident report. While simple in concept, creating an incident report can feel overwhelming. Have you ever hesitated over your keyboard, unsure of where to start and what to include? If so, keep reading. AppWork has created the ultimate guide to crafting detailed and efficient internal incident reports.

The Importance of Incident Reporting

As a property manager, you have more on your to-do list than you'll ever get done. You might ask yourself, "Do I need to bother with incident reports? Can't the police or insurance company deal with it?"

Yes, it is vitally important to write incident reports. Besides logging the facts, they will shape future decisions about interventions and improvements. These are the top reasons why incident reports (especially digital ones) are so critical:

  1. Documenting fresh facts: Memories fade. When you detail the incident as it unfolds, you optimize the opportunity to capture the most accurate version of events.
  2. Readily available resources: When incidents are fresh, resources for an investigation, like CCTV footage, witnesses, etc., are readily available. If you wait a week or a month, these resources will be much harder to track down and find.
  3. Future-proofing the data: Both employees and residents can change over time. Keeping detailed records of previous incidents ensures that future team members have access to comprehensive data.
  4. Report tracking: When you use a digital platform for incident reports, like AppWork's, you can start tracking multiple data points. This data provides insightful analytics to help you create a game plan for avoiding future incidents.
  5. Easy to find and search: When incident reports are created and stored digitally, they are easy to find and reference. You can even do a keyword search if you're looking for something specific.

It is vitally important to write incident reports. Besides logging the facts, they will shape future decisions about interventions and improvements.

Types of Incidents to Report

Each company might have its specific requirements when it comes to incident reporting, but here's a generalized list to give you a starting point:

  • Physical property damages
  • Theft or acts of vandalism
  • Disputes or altercations among tenants
  • Safety concerns such as leaks, fires, or structural issues
  • Unaddressed complaints that have escalated

Remember, we are offering this list as an example only. Always refer to your company's guidelines for a detailed list specific to your property.

The Golden Rule

When it comes to incident reporting, the sooner the better. Aim to complete reports within 24 hours post-incident. This timeliness guarantees fresh memories and immediate access to resources for all stakeholders.

Aim to complete reports within 24 hours post-incident.

The Five Ws of Incident Reports

Navigating through incident reporting is easier when you use the five Ws as your compass.

  1. What transpired? Describe the incident without leaving out crucial details. Be as objective as possible, writing down facts and not opinions.
  2. Where did the incident occur? Pinpoint the exact spot.
  3. When did it take place? Record the exact date and time.
  4. Who was involved or witnessed it? Note names and contact details.
  5. Why did it happen? Describe the cause or trigger, steering clear of conjectures. If you don't know, it's better to state clearly that the underlying cause is unknown.

What To Avoid

  • Speculation: The realm of guesses is treacherous. Adhere strictly to known and proven facts.
  • Exaggeration: Hyperboles can dilute the integrity of your report. Be neutral and precise. Don't interject any of your writing style into these reports.
  • Oversimplifications: Remember, every incident has its intricacies. Represent them without preconceived notions. Stick to the facts.
  • Assumptions: Don't assume anything. If unsure about a point, get the correct information directly from a source (such as a witness, a video recording, or a police statement).

Don't assume anything. If unsure about a point, get the correct information directly from a source.

What to Include

  • Concise yet comprehensive: Write a report rich in facts and details. Avoid fluff and fillers, like emoticons and exclamation marks.
  • Evidence speaks volumes: Incorporate photos, videos, or any corroborating evidence. Hard evidence decreases questions or challenges in the future.
  • Objectivity: Stick to an objective tone, free from personal biases.
  • Double-check everything: Cross-check facts, ensure clarity, and perhaps get a fresh pair (or two) of eyes on it.

Perfecting the Art of Incident Reporting

Creating effective internal incident reports is an art. Like any art, it requires diligence and consistent effort. You have to balance details and evidence, plus work promptly. No matter how overwhelming it might seem, incident reports play an integral part in managing properties safely.

If you're looking for efficient incident-reporting software, check out AppWork's proprietary interface. We designed it specifically for property managers. Contact us today to upgrade and streamline your reporting workflow.