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Documenting Incidents as Safety Professionals

Date: September 17, 2021

As safety professionals Flight Attendants act daily to uphold and support the safety of both passengers and crew. An important aspect of our role as safety professionals is officially reporting any unusual or unsafe instances on board the aircraft which we accomplish by completing Irregular Operations Reports (IOR) and/or Inflight Safety Action Program (ISAP) reports.

When writing an IOR/ISAP, your comments are more powerful when you clearly identify the “who, what, where, when, and why” in a concise and professional manner. There is a difference between writing a report intended to vent frustrations and writing one to effectively communicate the problem(s) encountered.  Effective communication is essential in driving the changes we may collectively seek in our workplace.

For your reporting to be effective and reflect well on you as a professional, it is equally important that you not provide extraneous detail and/or irrelevant information. The simple facts make the best reports. There is no reason to add lengthy descriptions or background information. In fact, too many asides can cloud the issue and get in the way of finding solutions. You need only clearly identify “who, what, where, when, and why.”  When writing reports, less really is more.

We recommend that you file your report(s) after the situation is resolved and only once you have had the opportunity to step back from any situation that might be emotionally charged. Give yourself the time to collect your thoughts and let the adrenalin levels in your body subside. Compose your report with clear facts from a non-emotional perspective in order to capture the detailed, essential facts, and nothing more. While we are all aware of the time frames in which reporting must be accomplished, there is plenty of time to compose a thoughtful and complete record of the events that could help drive safety improvements.

Finally, once you have compiled your report, take the time to review what you’ve put together before you hit the submit button.  You may also reach out to your local AFA Safety Committee for guidance before clicking send if you wish. These steps will ensure the report you submit contains enough information to keep others safe in the future but not too much passion or detail to confound the issue.

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