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Investigation
Key Task 3 - Report writing - Full report framework

This framework sets out the information requirements for a full report. The level of detail can be tailored to meet specific needs by the use of sub-headings.

Introduction

Include, if not already included elsewhere: name; official address; occupation; qualifications; membership of professional bodies; areas of expertise (emphasise those particularly relevant to the scope of the report), career history and relevant occupational experience (include references to appropriate publications).

A statement should be included that the analysis and opinions expressed in the report are the author’s own work; otherwise describe the extent of any collaborative work.

Purpose

State clearly the question(s) to which the report is responding, e.g. risk assessment, specialist review, fatal or serious incident

N.B The report should not go beyond what is relevant to the questions asked.

Indicate the current stage of the inquiry, e.g. preliminary, intermediate or final report.

In addition, specialists should list all the material (witness statements, documents, photos etc) that they have considered in reaching their opinion.

Suggest if any further information would be required to reach a final view.

Executive Summary

This section provides an opportunity for you to summarise briefly your findings.

You may wish to complete it after you have finished the other sections in the report.

Its purpose is to assist the reader, who may not be technically competent, in understanding the content of the report.

Background

This should give an uncontroversial background to the case.

Describe the documentation/information available upon which your report is based, i.e. the facts as seen or put on which your expert opinion is based.

Refer to any earlier drafts.

If applicable, state the date of site visit, who went with you, whom you met, the purpose of the visit, e.g. to examine the scene of the incident.

Current situation

This should be a factual description of the examination of the incident carried out or commissioned by the author.

If the report relates to an accident or fatality and a site visit has been conducted, describe the position/location of machine/process, indicate if different from time of incident, describe existing system of operation, include details of any available operating procedures/instructions, include details of any measurements/calculations/photography.

These should be clearly labelled using the initials of the author and attached as Annexes to the report.

Include the results of all tests, not just those that support the prosecution case.

Describe the training content and availability, relevant systems of work and risk assessments, the events leading up to the incident, refer to other witness statements describing the incident, indicate the cost of precautionary measures.

Current practice

Reference existing pieces of guidance, e.g. codes of practice, published benchmarks etc.; refer to manufacturer’s data, product drawings; reference any external work commissioned; reference published papers; reference published and unpublished research reports; include reference to materials the defendant would/should have had access; include not only what does apply to a particular process or machine but also why something does not apply; if necessary refer to specific HSE legislation.

Set out the current expected levels of compliance.

Where conditions are unsafe, details of accident rates, which show the scale of the danger, would be helpful.

Discussion

Having described the 'actual situation' and considered the benchmark position, this section provides an opportunity to compare and comment on the extent and significance of the difference.

Describe what, if anything went wrong; describe the facts and assumptions differentiating between each and clearly referencing their source; what in your opinion were the causative factors; discuss the adequacy of existing practices/systems of work; indicate whether action taken was foreseeable and whether the safeguards reasonably practicable; detail accident rates which show the scale of the danger; compare current systems with systems employed elsewhere in the industry; explain how far the current situation has deviated from the expected.

Do not stray from your own personal area of expertise.

Discuss any other possibilities and why these are not accepted.

Describe areas, which have been addressed correctly.

Mention any mitigating circumstances.

Conclusions

Respond directly to the initial questions (see Purpose above).

Remember to limit the response to those matters which are relevant and within your expertise.

Summarise the cause(s) leading to the actions taken e.g. whether the process/machine itself contributed to the incident.

Indicate clearly whether it was reasonably practicable to do more.

Closure

Clear the report with the appropriate persons, ensuring factual errors, spelling mistakes and/or any omissions have been addressed.

Sign and date the report.

Glossary of terms

It may be useful to provide a glossary of technical terms used in the report.


On a separate, detachable, sheet:

Recommendations for future action

How could re-occurrence be prevented?

State the means of prevention.

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Updated 2009-05-28