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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Reporting an Incident

By Heather Brown
July 08, 2016

Nonprofit organizations across the country implement risk management plans to help maintain safety and prevent negative incidents from occurring.Even the strongest risk management plans cannot guarantee you will be incident free. Stress is a common feeling experienced by nonprofit directors when an incident occurs. Reduce your stress during an incident by avoiding these five common mistakes:

1.Admitting guilt.Do not admit guilt at the time of the incident. First instincts may lead you to apologize. An apology (presented incorrectly) can be misunderstood as an assumption of guilt. There are two types of apologies:

a.”I am sorry this happened.”

b.”I am sorry we overlooked that.”

Both of these apologies are acceptable at the appropriate times. The first is acceptable at the time of the incident. The second is only acceptable if you are found guilty of making a mistake.

2. No compassion. Be quick to react to the incident and check on the involved parties to determine if they are physically okay. It is acceptable to be concerned with the individual’s well-being and show signs of sympathy. These actions are beneficial in making the injured party feel valued.

3. Not documenting. When an incident occurs, complete an incident reporting form.Important details to include in the report are:

a.When? The date and time of the incident.

b.Where? The place the incident occurred.

c.Who? The names of the individual(s) involved.

d.Who else? Was anybody contacted in regards to the incident? (911, doctors, family members)

e. What? Describe the facts of the incident including injury details.

f.What’s next?What steps or actions were taken at the time of the incident for
care, etc?

4. Forget witness reports. If the incident occurred at an event or with others around, request statements and contact information from the witnesses. Witness statements should contain the facts and no opinions. This information is beneficial in the event the incident turns into a lawsuit. Your insurance company may need to contact the witness for more information or addition details regarding the incident.

5.Not reporting the incident. Often times, directors choose to delay reporting of the incident out of fear for increased insurance premiums. Reporting the incident to your insurance agent at the time it occurs is vital. The agent will notify your insurance company giving them the opportunity to be proactive. If an incident is not reported immediately and it becomes a lawsuit, the claim may not be covered under your insurance policy. An uncovered claim is more costly than an increase in insurance premiums.

Incidents happen daily in large businesses, small business and nonprofit organizations like yours. Review these common mistakes with members of your volunteer team.Educate and train them to respond to incidents without taking the blame, getting the facts and take the necessary steps to report it to your insurance agency. For a more detailed explanation of what information should be included on your incident report, visit our  nonprofit
incident report guidelines page.

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