Reactive Vs. Proactive Reporting

In the ideal world, businesses would spot safety concerns before they became issues or led to an incident. But, unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen - especially without the right systems in place. 

While you may not be able to predict all incidents, you can take a proactive approach to your reporting processes. This can help you get ahead of issues. And in the instances where you don’t, you can deal with the aftermath more reactively.

We’ll explain the difference between reactive and proactive reporting below and share ways that you can manage both effectively.

The Difference Between Reactive Vs Proactive Reporting

Incident reporting, or observation reporting, can be roughly divided into two types. These distinctions are made based on the timing of the report. 

If a report is made after an event, then the report management process is responsive. This is a reactive report since the work of the safety and reporting teams is to investigate or inspect the incident in hindsight. Any decisions taken react to the occurrence and address its causes.

Proactive reporting, on the other hand, is based on on-the-beat observation. It relies on tracking and monitoring issues in real time before anything happens. If you are proactively auditing or assessing a target (be it a process, a location, or something similar), we are talking about proactive auditing. Safety observations made by staff also fall under this category as employees point out conditions they feel could lead to an incident prior to its event.

Reactive reporting relies on lagging indicators whereas proactive asks you to look at leading indicators and potential causes before anything severe occurs.


How To Approach Different Report Types

The requirements for these two different reporting approaches are quite different. Therefore, the tools, policies, and other reporting aspects for each one will also differ. Here are a few ways that you can implement each reporting type.

Proactive Reports

  • Monitor and review the planning, development, implementation, and use of your safety tools, policies, processes, etc.

  • Conduct regular inspections of equipment, premises, and more.

  • Implement health checks and surveys.

  • Set up safety feedback systems and other ways for your employees to communicate potential issues.

  • Carry out regular workplace audits.

Reactive Reports

  • Investigate incidents after they happen.

  • Track the progress of reports on incidents that have occurred.

  • Create plans to address incident causes.

  • Identify trends in incident reports.

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Final thoughts

Proactive and reactive reports are on two ends of the reporting spectrum. One asks you to have the foresight and stay ahead of the game. The other calls for action and interrogation in the incident’s aftermath. Both have important benefits to your incident reporting management as they empower you to handle incidents and reports more efficiently. 

With the insight, you gain before and after anything occurs, you can improve safety conditions and reduce the number of incidents that take place. They are key to designing a safety plan that works!


If you're looking for a platform to collect more data to monitor your organisation's incident reporting practices, Falcony | Observe have you covered. You can find more information on our website or test out our 30-day free trial: 

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We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

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