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Environmental Health and Safety


Incident & Near Miss Reporting

There are many possible emergency scenarios in a laboratory environment. Learn how to respond and report incidents and near misses in compliance with university standards.

If you are currently experiencing a health or safety emergency, immediately remove yourself from the hazard (e.g. leave the lab if an inhalation hazard is present, use the eyewash or safety shower if exposed to a hazardous material). For emergency assistance, dial 911. For USC police dispatch, dial 803-777-9111.

 

Procedures for Lab Incidents

The EH&S Office of Research Safety has developed emergency procedures for laboratory incidents involving hazardous materials. These procedures are designed to define, record, analyze and learn from accidents and incidents.

 

Procedures for Lab Incidents NOT Involving a Hazardous Material
  1. Follow the steps outlined in the USC Workers’ Compensation Guidance for Work Related Accidents or Injuries.
  2. Email jlocke@mailbox.sc.edu with a brief incident notification within 24 hours of any lab incident. Complete and submit the USC Laboratory Incident Report Form to EH&S [docx] within 3 days of the incident.
Procedures for Lab Incidents Involving a Hazardous Material
  1. Follow the steps outlined in the USC Workers’ Compensation Guidance for Work Related Accidents or Injuries.
  2. Follow the hazard-specific incident reporting procedures and timelines based on the hazard involved:
    1. Biological Hazards
    2. Chemical Hazards
    3. Radiation Hazards
  3. Email jlocke@mailbox.sc.edu with a brief incident notification within 24 hours of any lab incident. Complete and submit the USC Laboratory Incident Report Form to EH&S [docx] within 3 days of the incident.
  4. All exposures to a hazardous material must be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

 

In general, all employees of the University of South Carolina who are paid through the university payroll system are covered by workers’ compensation. Any accidental injury or occupational disease sustained by employees in the course of performing their job duties may be covered. Volunteers or non-compensated students are not eligible for workers' compensation.

Responding appropriately to many types of incidents will require seeking medical care and reporting to multiple stakeholders. All lab incidents involving injury or exposure must be reported to EH&S after seeking initial medical care. When an incident is reported, EH&S will conduct an investigation and assist laboratory personnel to determine appropriate corrective actions. The incident investigation process enables us to learn from the incident and implement measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

When a laboratory incident occurs, the Principal Investigator must review the incident report with all members of the laboratory and provide an opportunity to discuss the incident circumstances and lessons learned. Near misses and previous incidents provide opportunities for education and improvement only if they are appropriately documented, tracked, and communicated.

For non-emergency lab incidents that did not result in any injury and do not require immediate attention, please contact the EH&S Laboratory Safety Manager, Jocelyn Locke, at 803-777-7650 or jlocke@mailbox.sc.edu.

 

In Case of a Laboratory Injury

If you have an injury, seek necessary medical care then contact Buddy Harley, EH&S Employee Safety Manager, right away at 803-528-8191. He will coordinate any required incident reporting to SC OSHA.

 

Safety Concerns & Near Miss Reporting

A near miss is considered any incident that did not result in personal injury, property damage or release into the environment, but given slightly different circumstances could have resulted in an accident. Examples include laboratory equipment failure, unexpected chemical reactions, non-compliance with safety policies or procedures, and general unsafe laboratory conditions that may result in an accident if the conditions are not addressed.

It is everyone’s responsibility to immediately report and correct potential hazards before they cause an injury or illness. The responsibile personnel for reporting incidents, safety concerns and near-misses includes senior administrators, department chairs, Principal Investigators, laboratory personnel or any other individual that becomes aware of a hazardous situation.

Completing a Near Miss Report Form [docx] is one important way to document a hazardous situation and any change that is made to prevent its recurrence. These reports should be submitted to EH&S and discussed during lab meetings since they can be used to illustrate lessons learned to prevent future incidents.

Resources on Laboratory Accidents and Incidents

There are multiple resources that can be useful for learning from accidents or incidents that have occurred in other laboratories:

  • The Laboratory Safety Institute website maintains a Memorial Wall that includes an extensive list of laboratory accidents.
  • The American Biological Safety Association website maintains a Laboratory-Acquired Infection (LAI) Database that enables the user to search for specific terms and find incident information such as the biological agent(s) involved, occupation of the affected person, biosafety level, device/equipment involved, how the exposure occurred, PPE worn, engineering controls used, follow-up procedures, actions that may have prevented exposure, post-exposure prophylaxis provided and agency reporting.
  • Multiple agencies have encouraged the establishment and maintenance of an anonymous reporting system for centralizing the collection of information about and lessons learned from incidents and near misses in academic laboratories. There has been progress in recent years with some scientific literature referencing this type of incident information. All lab researchers are encouraged to carefully evaluate any references to safety precautions or lessons learned from incidents when reviewing scientific publications.

USC Laboratory Accident or Injury Resources