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Environmental Health and Safety

Incident & Near Miss Reporting

There's great potential for many emergency scenarios in a laboratory environment. Learn how to respond and report incidents 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.

In Case of a Laboratory Injury

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

Workers' Compensation

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.

Incident Reporting

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

Responding appropriately to many types of incidents may require the involvement of multiple stakeholders. It is recommended that you report all incidents to create a safer research environment. When an incident is reported, EH&S will conduct an incident 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 mitigate the risk of 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



  • All laboratory incidents must be reported within 24 hours to your supervisor and to EH&S for follow-up.
  • Refer to the hazard-specific sections on incident reporting for further guidance based on the hazard involved.
  • All exposures to a hazardous material must be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

The University’s laboratory incident report form and guidance on workers’ compensation are available here:

Safety Concerns & Near Miss Reporting

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

It is everyone’s responsibility to report and correct these potential hazards immediately before they cause an injury or illness. The responsibility 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 an accident or incident in the future.

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.

Procedures for Incidents Involving a Hazardous Material

Please follow the links below for additional guidance on procedures for laboratory incidents involving hazardous materials: