Incident Reporting and Follow-Up

If this incident/event is occurring now and is an emergency with injuries, fire, explosion, or significant release of biological, chemical, and/or radioactive materials CALL 911.



Incidents are unplanned events that have led to injuries, exposures, illness, equipment damage, environmental damage, or any interruption to normal operations. Examples include chemical exposures, cuts due to broken glassware, fires, spills resulting in exposures, and explosions.

Near misses

A near miss is an unplanned event in which a worker might have been injured if the circumstances had been slightly different. These events have the potential to cause injury, illness, equipment damage, environmental damage, or an interruption to normal operation. Examples of near misses include spills without exposure, loss of containment, and any time emergency equipment (e.g. fire extinguisher) is used to prevent damage or injury. 


Reporting is important not only to document the incident to describe the who, what, when, why, or how of what happened but also to raise awareness and engage stakeholders.   This is an opportunity to open a conversation between DRS and the researchers to identify hazards in operations, correct shortcomings or oversights in procedures, and suggest improvements as needed.  It also allows sharing with others the lessons learned to avoid future incidents.  

Ways to Report

Contact DRS immediately to report any incident or near miss (e.g. “close call”).  Report to your supervisor.  Please include where the incident occurred, the type of incident, and if there was an injury or property damage.

DRS Follow-Up

DRS will contact you on all reported incidents and near misses to discuss the specifics of what happened. This allows DRS and researchers to identify hazards and risks in operations, suggest procedure improvements, and detail the lessons learned from the incident. DRS provides the researcher with an Incident Questionnaire and may perform an in-person follow-up interview if necessary.

In cases of injury, exposure, or property damage, a formal report may be drafted summarizing the events that led to the incident. 

The report seeks to identify and correct the root causes of incidents, not find blame. This is a collaborative effort between researchers, DRS, and other parties that were involved. A meaningful investigation requires all members involved in the incident, including Principal Investigators and supervisors, to participate to determine the root cause and implement corrective actions successfully.

DRS prepares the report based on information provided by the researchers and Principal Investigator, and if necessary, emergency responders. Facility managers and unit safety personnel can provide additional sources of information. The final report is provided to those involved in the incident and stakeholders. 

Additional Reporting

Depending on the nature of the incident, additional reporting will be required. DRS will notify the unit when an incident involves any of the following:

Blood or Other Potentially Infectious Materials

If an exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material occurs, complete the Exposure Report Form.
This form complies with the OSHA bloodborne pathogens (BBP) standard and campus BBP program. This report should be completed regardless of where the injury occurred or whether the person received medical treatment.


Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acids

If an incident involves materials that have been genetically modified, additional reporting to the NIH may be required.  The NIH Guidelines require that any significant problems, violations, or any significant research-related accidents or illnesses involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids must be reported to the Office of Science Policy (OSP) within 30 days.  Appendix G of the NIH Guidelines specifies certain types of accidents that must be reported on a more expedited basis.  Specifically, Appendix G-II-B-2-k requires that spills and accidents in BL-2 laboratories resulting in overt exposure must be immediately reported to the OSP (as well as the IBC). Contact DRS immediately for assistance.

An Incident Reporting Template and corresponding FAQ are available on the NIH Office of Science Policy (OSP) website.

Laser or Radioactive Materials

In the event of an injury or exposure involving a laser or radioactive materials, DRS will assist in completing and submitting the required reports to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). 

Worker's Compensation

For any work-related exposure or injury during an incident, complete the First Report of Injury form within 24 hours and send it to the contacts listed on the form. For information regarding Workers Compensation, please see the University Office of Risk Management website.

Last Updated: 2/27/2024