Published 15 Aug 2023
What is an Environmental Incident Report?
An environmental incident report is a document that provides a detailed account of an event or incident that has occurred, resulting in environmental harm or potential harm. It serves as a formal record of the incident and is used to report the incident to the appropriate authorities or organizations responsible for environmental protection.
Typically, a template for reporting environmental incidents is used to help streamline the process of documenting key details and promote a culture of reporting in an organization
In this article
- What is Considered an Environmental Incident?
- Importance of Filing Reports on Environmental Incidents
- What to Include in an Environmental Incident Report
- How Do You Write an Environmental Incident Report?
- FAQs About Environmental Incident Reports
- Streamline Environmental Incident Reporting Using SafetyCulture
- Related Environmental Incident Report Templates
What is Considered an Environmental Incident?
Any event or occurrence that leads to potential or actual harm to the environment is called an environmental incident. It usually involves activities or situations that cause pollution, degradation, or disruption of natural resources, ecosystems, or the overall balance of the environment. Generally, the scope of environmental incidents varies, ranging from localized incidents to even larger-scale disasters.
The main types of environmental incidents and some examples are the following:
- Natural – tornados, earthquakes, fires, floods, diseases
- Non-natural – chemical spills, industrial-based fires, improperly contained radioactive waste
Importance of Filing Reports on Environmental Incidents
To report an environmental incident means being proactive in helping manage its impact and prevent its recurrence. Also, writing environmental incident reports and submitting them to relevant stakeholders, authorities, or agencies serve the following purposes:
- Environmental Protection – allows for prompt action to mitigate environmental damage
- Early Detection and Prevention – enables early detection of environmental issues and potential hazards
- Compliance with Regulations – ensures compliance with legal obligations, including Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) systems
- Accountability and Transparency – contributes to accountability and transparency in environmental management
- Data Collection and Analysis – incident reports serve as valuable data sources for analyzing trends, identifying recurring issues, and conducting environmental impact risk assessments
- Communication and Collaboration – facilitates communication and collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, environmental organizations, and affected communities
- Lessons Learned and Improvement – offers opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies, procedures, and response strategies
What to Include in an Environmental Incident Report
Various organizations from different industries may have unique reporting needs based on the risks and hazards involved in the nature of their work. Nonetheless, an environmental incident report template they must use should include at least the following key elements:
- Incident Description and Other Details
- Environmental Impact
- Actions Taken
- Reporting Person/Organization Information
- Supporting Documentation
- Any Additional Relevant Information
How Do You Write an Environmental Incident Report?
When writing one, it’s best to use an environmental incident report form to help you ensure every detail is properly documented and accounted for.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to report an environmental incident in the workplace or any organizational setting using a template:
- State the date, time, and location of the incident. If relevant, include the specific timeframe, duration, geographical coordinates, or landmarks.
- Describe the incident in detail, explaining what happened, how it occurred, and any relevant contributing factors.
- Describe the actual or potential environmental impact resulting from the incident. If known or estimable, assess the severity and extent of the environmental damage.
- Outline any immediate actions taken to address the incident and mitigate its environmental impact. Include details about containment measures, cleanup efforts, emergency response activities, or any other steps to prevent further harm.
- If relevant, mention any assistance or collaboration from external agencies or organizations and authorities.
- Attach any relevant photos, videos, or other supporting media files that provide evidence of the incident or its consequences.
- Provide the name, position or title, organization, address, and other contact details of the person or organization submitting the report.
FAQs About Environmental Incident Reports
In many cases, there are dedicated regulatory agencies, environmental protection departments and hotlines, local government offices, or emergency response agencies responsible for receiving and investigating environmental incident reports. This depends on the jurisdiction of a specific country, state, or region.
Yes, visual documentation can be helpful in supporting the description of the incident and providing additional context for authorities or organizations reviewing the report. If you have any relevant photos, videos, or other evidence, include them in your report, following any guidelines provided by the reporting entity.
Generally, one report must only include a single environmental incident. This helps authorities or organizations properly assess and respond to each incident based on its specific characteristics, impacts, and required actions. Also, submitting separate reports for each incident ensures clarity and accountability.
Streamline Environmental Incident Reporting Using SafetyCulture
Why use SafetyCulture?
One way to ensure continuous operational improvement in your organization is to look out for your employee safety and well-being. When they feel they’re genuinely taken care of and their safety is prioritized, they’re in the best position to do better in their work. From an organizational perspective, employees are more involved in contributing to the success of the business.
The same thing applies to incident reporting in the workplace. This helps in improving an organization’s safety program since incidents are raised promptly and can be addressed in a timely manner.
Using a tool like SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) can streamline the process of reporting environmental incidents. Apart from that, organizations can also take advantage of SafetyCulture’s features and functionalities:
- Download checklists and templates from the Public Library that you can use to inspect workplace premises and assets and report environmental incidents across various sites in your organization.
- Report issues and incidents in the workplace and assign corrective actions for timely resolution. Share results and updates across the board using Heads Up.
- Generate environmental incident reports in various formats, including PDF, Excel, Word, or Weblink, and store them on SafetyCulture’s secure cloud.
- Schedule regular safety inspections to ensure proper implementation of minimum protocols and avoid incidents from happening.
- Use the Analytics dashboard to gain insights into trends and data regarding your environmental and safety protocols.
- Train everyone in your organization on how to observe workplace safety.
- Manage and ensure the safety of lone workers to mitigate their exposure to environmental risks using SHEQSY by SafetyCulture.
Related Environmental Incident Report Templates
Document incidents and near misses on-site using this comprehensive incident report form. Record who’s completing the form, describe the incident, specify its type, and recommend action plans.