Once an incident or near miss is reported, supervisors then conduct, or coordinate, an incident investigation. Incident investigations are not intended to assign blame, but to identify root causes and assist in the identification and implementation of appropriate controls to prevent future occurrences. For incidents involving employee injury, supervisors also facilitate required injury reporting as described in the Injury Reporting chapter of this manual.
When Is an Incident Investigation Required?
The incident investigation should take place as soon after the incident or near miss is recognized. An Incident Investigation Worksheet is available on the HSRM website.
Minor incidents (e.g., a spill of a low hazard chemical inside a lab) can be investigated by the supervisor or someone designated by the supervisor. Events that caused harm to a person or could cause significant harm to people, property, or the environment must be coordinated by the supervisor and include the Department Safety Officer (DSO) and Research Safety Professional from HSRM.
Results of an incident investigation should be shared with those involved in the incident, as well as other members of the lab or research group and the department safety committee. Action items identified in the investigation (e.g., changes to SOPs, training, PPE requirements) should be documented after implementation. It is best practice to share an anonymous account of the incident and recommendations department or college-wide so all researchers can benefit from lessons learned.