Incident and near miss investigation

Contact DRS immediately to report any incident or near miss (e.g. “close call”) at 217-333-2755 or DRS will complete a follow-up report detailing the events that led to the incident or near miss. This allows DRS and researchers to identify hazards in operations, correct shortcomings in procedures, and to detail the lessons learned from the incident. The report provides corrective actions that should be implemented to help prevent future incidents.

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

DRS prepares the report based on information provided by the researchers and Principal Investigator, and if necessary, emergency responders. Additional sources of information can be provided by facility managers and unit safety personnel. DRS provides the researchers with an Incident Questionnaire and may perform an in-person follow-up interview if necessary. The final report is provided to anyone involved in the incident, and is for internal use only.


Incidents are unplanned events that have led to injuries, 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.

Blood or Other Potentially Infectious Materials

Exposure Report Form

This form should be completed if there has been an occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBP). This report should be completed regardless of where the injury occurred or whether the person received medical treatment.

Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acids

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 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 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). 

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. Near misses need to be investigated just like incidents to prevent any future situation that could lead to an injury. Examples of near misses include spills without an exposure, loss of containment, and any time emergency equipment (e.g. fire extinguisher) is used to prevent damage or injury.

Workers compensation

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

Last Update: 1/10/2023
Updated By: lmarsene