Chapter 11: Incident Reporting

Internal Reporting of Incidents Involving Biological Agents

The below spill scenarios must be reported to the Biosafety Officer or other appropriate EH&S staff member if the Biosafety Officer is not immediately available. The Biosafety Officer can be contacted at 327-56 (office) and the EH&S 24-hour number is 327-5040. Incidents or safety concerns can also be reported online from the EH&S home page (www.unr.edu/ehs, then click on the “Report an Incident” quick tab.)

Report the following incidents as soon as possible:

  • All spills or personnel exposure incidents involving BSL-3 agents or select agents and toxins (reporting of minor spills contained in a biological safety cabinet can wait until business hours if no personnel exposure is suspected)
  • All personnel exposure incidents involving BSL-2 agents or biological toxins
  • The following spills or personnel exposure incidents involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid:
  • Overt exposures of personnel to BSL-2 recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid
  • Overt or potential exposures of personnel to BSL-3 recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid
  • High risk spills of any BSL-2 agent or biological toxin, even when released within a biological safety cabinet or other containment (high risk due to large volume or high potential for aerosolization)
  • Any spill or release of a biological agent outside of a laboratory room or release to the outside environment by any route (e.g., ventilation system, sewer, or spill during transport)

Report the following incidents the next business day:

  • Spills or other incidents that involve exposure of personnel to BSL-1 agents which are not expected to result in adverse health effects.
  • Spills of BSL-2 agents not included above (e. g., low risk spills)
  • Incidents or situations that had potential to expose personnel or result in release outside of containment (“near misses”)

Notification of the Institutional Biosafety Committee

The Biosafety Officer will notify the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Chair of reported incidents no later than the next business day. The Biosafety Officer will investigate reported incidents and provide a written critique of the incident to the IBC Chair, the responsible Principal Investigator, and university administrators as appropriate. The IBC Chair will decide if the incident will be reviewed by the IBC.

External Reporting of Incidents Involving Biological Agents

In some cases, incidents involving biological agents must be reported to external agencies within specified time limits. Guidance on external reporting of biological agent incidents is provided below. Contact the University of Nevada, Reno Biosafety Officer for more specific guidance on incidents not specifically addressed.

Incidents Requiring Reporting to an External Agency

Select Agents

The Biosafety Officer (Ben Owens) is also the University Select Agent Responsible Official (RO) and he or one of the designated Alternate Responsible Officials (AROs) is responsible for reporting incidents involving select agents to the CDC or APHIS in accordance with the current select agent regulations (see Chapter 13 for more information). The RO or ARO is also responsible for submitting reporting forms required by the select agent regulations.

Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid

The IBC Chair is responsible for reporting incidents involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid to the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA) as specified in the latest edition of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules. Alternatively, the IBC Chair can ask the BSO to make any required notifications to the NIH OBA.

Biohazardous Waste

Incidents involving spills or releases of biohazardous waste that result in personnel exposure, a health and safety hazard to the public or agricultural or domestic animals, or discharge to the environment, must be reported to the Washoe County District Health Department Environmental Health Services as soon as possible. Significant changes to the storage, transport, or treatment of biohazardous waste requires revision of the University Biohazardous Waste Operations Plan and must be approved by the Washoe County District Health Department. The Biosafety Officer or alternate EH&S staff member is responsible for reporting incidents. The Biosafety Officer is responsible for revising the Biohazardous Waste Operations Plan.

Release of Biological Agents

Release of infectious agents outside of the laboratory, whether to the larger building or to the environment must be reported to Washoe County Health District Environmental Health Services as soon as possible. Infectious agents that are classified as select agents or recombinant or synthetic nucleic have additional reporting requirements as specified above. The Biosafety Officer or alternate EH&S staff member is responsible for reporting such incidents to the Washoe County Health District, and the Biosafety Officer is responsible for reporting incidents involving select agents and recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid as described above.

Exposure to Personnel

Personnel exposure incidents involving a causative agent of a communicable disease must be reported to Washoe County Health District Environmental Health Services as soon as possible. Reportable incidents are those that involve specific contact of an infectious agent with eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes; parenteral contact; contact with non-intact skin; exposure to aerosols; and diagnosed illnesses known or suspected of being laboratory acquired. Biological agents that are classified as select agents or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid have additional reporting requirements as specified above. The Biosafety Officer or alternate EH&S staff member is responsible for reporting such incidents to the Washoe County Health Department, and the Biosafety Officer is responsible for reporting incidents involving select agents and recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid as described above.

Fatalities or Hospitalizations

Any occupational incident that results in the fatality of an employee within 8 hours. Additionally, work-related in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees, amputation, or loss of an eye, must be reported to the Nevada State OSHA within 24 hours. The Biosafety Officer or alternate EH&S staff member is responsible for making this report.