60 Second Incident Report blog heading

What types of incidents should actually be reported?

When reporting incidents involving aggressive behaviours, what types of incidents should actually be reported?

Think about the last time you were angry. You started off being happy. Then you became unhappy, perhaps frustrated. Then you became angry. Then you verbalised your anger. And that is where I would like to think we all stop.

The next step is to damage property, e.g. slam a cupboard, smash something onto the floor. Next is to think about hurting someone. Next is to say you are going to hurt someone, that is, you are threatening them. Next is to physically hurt someone a little. Next is to physically hurt someone a lot.

Some people will go from being happy to physically hurting someone and skip all the steps in between. However most of the time people are moving through the steps as their anger escalates.

Your staff will be reporting all the incidents at the serious end of the spectrum.

Anecdotally, it is clear that staff are not reporting the everyday incidents involving aggressive behaviours at the lower end of the spectrum.

Report all incidents from verbal abuse and up

“The small stuff leads to the big stuff.”

The more verbal abuse you see, the more you can expect to see threatening behaviours. The more threatening behaviours you see, the more threats that you can expect to be carried out.

Psychological injuries are on the rise. Staff do not need to suffer a physical injury to have suffered a psychological injury. Even incidents involving “only” verbal abuse or threatening behaviours can adversely impact staff, especially when we consider cumulative exposure.

The earlier identification of potential risks provides more options to maximise the safety and wellbeing of all involved.

We need to be reporting all incidents from verbal abuse and up.

Why are the most frequent types of incidents not reported?

The under reporting of incidents involving aggressive behaviours should not be underestimated.

We often hear, “Reporting an incident takes too long, management know it is happening and nothing will change anyway.”

Other contributing factors might include:

  • No time is allocated during the shift to report incidents
  • Aggressive behaviours are part of the job
  • Incident was only minor
  • Aggressive incidents represent professional failure
  • Staff member may be perceived as not having the skills to handle difficult situations.

In the absence of reliable incident reporting, how do you know what your staff are enduring (in silence) prior to the submission of their workers compensation claim?

How long does it take to complete your incident report form?

For most, the answer is somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes for most staff.

This is a significant barrier to the reporting of incidents involving aggressive behaviours.

To improve reporting of the lesser, but also more frequent, incidents such as verbal abuse and threatening behaviour, consider introducing a 60 second incident reporting form.

It is accepted that there will be less detail regarding an incident collected in a 60 Second Incident Report as there would be in your current Incident Report. The 60 Second Incident Report is to provide data on frequency of exposure to aggressive behaviours at the lower end of the spectrum. This will capture the high frequency incidents that are currently not being reported.

It would be a good idea to set up a process to periodically review in detail the everyday incidents being reported using the 60 Second Incident Report. Perhaps for every 50th or 100th 60 Second Incident Report your current more detailed Incident Report is to be completed for this purpose.

If we do this well, we will be able to analyse the incident data to identify emerging trends across service users and staff. Doing so will add depth to your evidence base in order to maximise safety and wellbeing.

5 Tips for your 60 Sec Incident Report form:

1. Include a check box to request supervisor follow up.

2. Provide your definitions for the various types of incidents as a footnote to the form.
Click here for some ideas on defining aggressive behaviours.

3. Staff must be able to complete it in 60 seconds or less!

4. The form is to be submitted electronically using any device with internet access.

5. Consider setting KPIs around incident reporting.

As a trial concept, you might consider creating a short incident report form on Survey Monkey or similar that can be accessed and submitted by any device with internet access.

Please feel welcome to get in touch if you would like a copy of an example 60 Second Incident Report Form or to see an example on Survey Monkey.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Travis Holland

Travis Holland
Managing Director
Holland Thomas
Travis Holland email address

Should you wish to discuss strategies to improve your staff’s safety in their work environment, please feel welcome to contact Holland Thomas.

Passionate about creating safer workplaces our goal is to enhance wellbeing for all concerned whilst also delivering improved operational and financial performance.

This blog draws on our years of experience delivering our M.A.B.™ Staff Safety Training (Contextualised Prevention and Management of Aggressive Behaviours) across Australia and the development of My Safety Buddy, our smartphone app and web portal based lone worker safety solution.

Enjoyed this piece? Please share, like, and comment.