May 28, 2024
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Filling Out an Incident Report Log (with Free Template)

Loring Weisenberger
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Incident Report Log Template
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The incident report log is an essential tool for handling safety and security breaches on set. Knowing how to properly fill one out can mean the difference between a minor safety speed bump and a major production problem. 

In this post, we’re digging into everything you need to know about incident report logs. We’ll break down what they are, why they matter, and even show you how to fill a log of your own using our free incident report log template. 

Download our free incident report log template

Before we dive into the details, take a moment to download our free incident report log template

This template provides a clear framework for logging any incidents on set. You and your team can use it as is, straight out of the box, or easily customize it to better meet the unique needs of your production. 

You can also use our free incident report log template to follow along with the sections below, as we walk you through the basics of filling out the report for yourself.

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Incident Report Log Template

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What’s an incident report log?

While the ideal environment for filmmakers is happy, healthy, and safe at all times, the fact is that accidents and incidents do happen. After all, we’re talking about an industry where fist fights, car crashes, and flying robots can all be part of a typical Tuesday. 

We can hope for the best, but responsible productions must prepare for the worst.

Incident report logs are a fundamental tool for that preparation. In simple terms, an incident report log is a standardized form for documenting any injuries, illnesses, altercations, or other notable issues that occur while making a movie, TV show, commercial, and so on. 

As we’ll cover in more depth later, reported incidents typically skew toward matters of physical health and safety, but exceptions to that rule are possible. Additionally, the use of incident report logs aren’t just for principal photography. They should also be used when appropriate during pre-production and post-production.

Why are incident report logs essential?

In contrast to other best practices for set safety, incident report logs are only used after an incident happens. If they don’t help prevent issues from happening, why do they matter so much?

They help you identify problems

The first answer is practical. The easier it is to identify a problem, the easier it is to find a workable solution. Incident reports help a production identify and track risk patterns so that solutions can be implemented more effectively.

For example, let’s say that there’s a low hanging beam in the middle of your set. This might not be an obvious obstruction. Most people will likely duck below it as they approach. However, a small handful of them might be too busy reading their phones. They might bonk their heads on the seemingly innocent, low hanging beam. Appropriately filed incident reports would then help you identify the issue and correct it with extra signage or other precautions.

The same theory can be easily applied to more serious matters. Incident report logs can help you notice physical hazards, risk-prone processes, and even patterns of inappropriate behavior by a member of the cast or crew. In this way, they can be just as critical as safety meetings or AMPTP safety bulletins to ensure a healthy set.

They offer legal protection

Incident report logs are also important for legal reasons. If a health or safety incident is not properly documented, it can create legal vulnerabilities long after the incident occurred. Incident reports can help to protect both the production company as well as any personnel directly affected by the documented incident. 

For production companies, incident reports offer limited protection against lawsuits. By creating an official report of an incident at the time that it occurs, a production shields itself against anyone altering the facts later on. In this way, a failure to keep accurate records could become an expensive mistake, just as it is in payroll compliance.

From a more proactive perspective, incident report logs are also an important tool for using production insurance. If you want to file a claim with your insurance provider, you’ll likely need to provide an incident report or similar documentation in the process. 

This is true for incidents that involve equipment, locations, or – most importantly – cast and crew members. For example, incident reports can be critical when a worker files for workers’ compensation.

If a crew member is injured on the job and can no longer work as a result, workers’ comp will provide an important financial lifeline while they get back on their feet. To prove that their accident happened on the job, the crew member will likely need an incident report. If the production failed to file a proper report at the time of the accident, the insurance company may have grounds to reject the crew member’s workers’ comp claim after the fact. 

All of this brings us back to the idea that incident report logs are essential for safety. They help protect you and your team in the long term. 

Who fills out an incident report log?

Ideally, incident reports should be filled out by a member of the production team who has at least some authority. For that reason, responsibility for the incident report log often falls to the 1st assistant director, unit production manager, or line producer. In any case, productions should designate which member of the crew will handle incident reports before production begins. 

However, the most important thing about any incident report is the act of documentation itself.

Filling Out an Incident Report Log - Wrapbook - On Set
Incident report logs can help you identify risk patterns on set.

For example, if an art PA is injured while prepping a set ahead of the rest of the crew, the highest-ranking member of the art department present should make an effort to document the incident. The production department may follow up and file an official report for their records later, but it’s crucial that basic information be gathered on the spot

What types of incidents should be reported?

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and a lot can go wrong on an active film set. Here’s a broad list of types of incidents that should be documented in an incident report log:

  • Physical injuries (e.g. the lead actress rolls her ankle on the dolly track)
  • Illnesses (e.g. food poisoning from craft services)
  • Equipment or property damage (e.g. a camera drone flies into a power line)
  • Near miss accidents (e.g. a light stand tips over and almost hits an actor)
  • Violent altercations
  • Harassment
  • Fraud or theft
  • Information security breaches (e.g. physical startwork documents are lost at a location)
  • Other physical security incidents (e.g. a fan sneaks onto set)

Please note that the above list is not exhaustive. As a rule, if you’re not sure whether you should report a specific incident, report it. While there’s no harm in having an extra report that no one really needs, a failure to have a report when someone does need it can cause serious problems. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What are the different parts of an incident report log?

Now that we understand what incident reports are and why they matter, let’s dig into how they work. Use our free incident report log template to follow along, as we examine each of the individual components that make up an incident report. 

Incident details

The majority of any incident report log template will be occupied by a breakdown of incident details. This is where the report collects any and all information about whatever incident has occurred.

Here’s a list of basic data you’ll want to capture:

  • Date and time of incident
  • Name(s) of person(s) involved
  • Description of incident
  • Witnesses to incident (with contact info)

The amount of actual detail required will vary from incident to incident. In general, it’s best to be thorough and clear. Anyone who reads the report later should be able to easily understand what happened, when it happened, where it happened, and who it happened to.

Injury (if applicable)

In the unfortunate event that a cast or crew member is injured, the production should accurately document the extent of their injuries. This entails a physical description of any injury that occurs. Anything from a minor cut that required a simple band aid to a compound fracture that required an ambulance. If an injury occurred, it should be documented.

In situations where property or equipment is damaged, but no personnel are harmed, you may wish to describe the extent of the damage in this same section. 

Reporting of the incident

Your incident report log should also capture basic information about the act of reporting the incident. At minimum, you’ll want to note the following:

  • Personnel to whom the incident was reported
  • Date of reporting
  • Form of reporting (in person, email, phone, etc.)

These details outline the who, when, and how behind the act of reporting. They establish a timeline and communication framework that can be helpful in filing insurance claims, preventing fraud, or handling lawsuits. 

Follow up action

Information provided in the “follow up action” section of your incident report log should describe any steps taken to rectify, mitigate, or manage an incident. The appropriate action to be taken will vary according to the type of incident that has occurred. 

For instance, if a crew member is injured, you may have to call an ambulance or transport them to a hospital. If a cast member comes down with the flu, you may have to send them home for a few days and notify the rest of the production. If a fight breaks out, you may have to remove the involved personnel from the production. If a piece of equipment is broken, you may have to file an insurance claim

The possibilities are endless. Regulations from a union or guild may provide guidance for appropriate follow up actions under some circumstances, but that’s often not the case. The key is to use your best judgment and to communicate. If the production takes any step to handle a situation, note it thoroughly in the incident report, even if it’s nothing more than applying a band-aid. 

Wrapping up

While no one ever wants to find themselves filling out an incident report, it’s always best to be prepared. You should keep an incident report log template on hand through every step of the filmmaking process. 

If you’re interested in additional safety and security measures, check our free ebook guide to digital security for production or our deep dive into how to protect your production company.

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Digital Security for Production: Everything You Need to Know

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Last Updated 
May 28, 2024

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Loring Weisenberger

Loring is a Los Angeles-based writer, director, and creative producer. His work has been commissioned by a diverse range of clients- from Havas Worldwide to Wisecrack, inc.- and has been screened around the world. Through a background that blends project development with physical production across multiple formats, Loring has developed a uniquely eclectic skillset as a visual storyteller.

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