EHS Pro Gives Advice on Writing Reports

June 16, 2000
An experienced safety and environmental manager offers some do's and dont's of report writing.

As a safety and environmental manager, there are many opportunities to read and write reports. In my experience, many writers bury the essence of the report in a myriad of large sentences and never ending dialogue.

One must read and analyze the report more than once to understand the intent of the reporter. I don't claim to be an expert on how to write effective reports, but feel the necessity to offer some techniques that have helped me in the past.

The following are basic suggestions in writing effective reports in various subject areas.

  • 1. Organize your material into five categories: Summary, Background, Observations, Recommendations (if any), and Summary.
  • 2. Using these categories, subdivide your report data into specific topics and decide the best heading to place the information under based on relatedness. (For example: a. Number of accidents, b. Length of employment).
  • 3. All reports should start with the summary, capturing the essence of the report.
  • 4. Don't use cliches.
  • 5. When recommendations are warranted, objectively formulating them is foremost in controlling excess verbosity.
  • 6. Grammar and spelling are other components, which can make or break an effective report.
  • 7. Always number the pages to indicated the number of pages in the document and where the pages sequentially belong.
  • 8. Any narrative account of observations should never include "here-say." You or in the case of a witness report, you and the witness should always have actually seen or heard the reported incident.
  • 9. Do not report any material which is not truthful or factual.
  • 10. Be sure to proof your report and allow a colleague to review it. Often we think it makes sense because we are the authors and we know what we wanted to convey.
  • 11. Lastly, check the document for "that" overuse; one will be surprised how much more fluid the report reads without it.

by Larry Blackman: Blackman is safety and environmental manager for PML Inc., Paris, Tenn. He has a bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education, a master's degree in Education and is a CESM (Certified Environmental Systems Manager) with the National Registry of Environmental Professionals.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!