Reporting accidents and incidents
The University of Chicago requires all work-related accident/incident reports to be submitted to Environmental Health and Safety and the Office of Research Safety via the UChicago Accident/Incident Reporting (UCAIR) System. Accidents and incidents are defined as follows:
- An accident is an unanticipated or off-normal event that results in injury, illness, environmental release or impact, or significant property damage
- An incident is a close call, near miss, or unsafe condition that has the potential to escalate to accident
The importance of reporting accidental spills or exposure events is obvious. Not only is this important in terms of personal health, but it is also important for the health of our coworkers, the research community, and the general public. The secure and responsible conduct of life sciences research depends, in part, on observation and reporting by peers, supervisors, and subordinates. Individuals working with hazardous chemical material, radioactive material, or potentially infectious material (molecular recombinant DNA constructs with either direct or indirect, acute, or latent disease potential such as insertional mutagenesis due to exposure to a viral vector) must understand and acknowledge their responsibility to report activities that are inconsistent with a culture of responsibility or are otherwise troubling.
Reporting concerning behavior
The University of Chicago Office of Risk Management has established a whistleblower program to enable the anonymous reporting of troubling behavior. Institutional and laboratory leadership must acknowledge their responsibility to respond to reports of concerning behavior and undertake actions to prevent retaliation stemming from such reports.
Reports of concerning behavior within the lab can also be reported to the Office of Research Safety, Environmental Health and Safety, and the Institutional Biosafety Committee.
Reporting health conditions that impact safety
People with health conditions, whether chronic or acute, that have the potential to place them at risk in the laboratory should self-report to their personal physician or UChicago Occupational Medicine. A decision about continued involvement with research involving infectious agents must be an informed decision that includes appropriate medical expertise.