How To Write a Safety Report
OHS professionals write many reports, read many reports and ask others to prepare reports for them. A major sin is long rambling reports that do not get to the point quickly and succinctly! Prepare succinct reports yourself and make it clear that your expectation is that others do likewise. If you receive a long report ask the author for a succinct summary of the major points. Often people just want to know what has to be done and why and can do without all the padding.
- Need to consider your audience-Personal style, technical background, formality and their likely attitude to your communication.
- Generally a team approach to preparing your report has advantages, put a fair bit of work into defining the scope of your report.
- Use relevant means of gathering necessary data. Search the internet but be certain of your source, experiments, surveys, interviews, questionnaires.
- Draft, set aside after get comments on the draft and re-draft.
- Spell check and get at least one other person to edit the final.
- Front-Cover, title, introduction, contents page, list of illustrations, abstract or executive summary.
- Report body, discussion, conclusions, recommendations.
- End, references, appendices.
- Pictures, diagrams, sketches and flow charts can have a powerful impact and save a lot of written words.
- Use short words and short sentences and avoid jargon, use concrete rather than abstract terms.
- Try to present both sides of the case.
- Be succinct, busy people do not have time to write waffle that others are too busy to read. Bear in mind however your paper work needs to be detailed enough to be defensible in court.
- Follow up an important report with face-to-face communication or a presentation.
The above is adapted from Writing and Presenting Reports by B Eunson which is well worth a read.