Safety Services


Report an accident or incident

Accidents and incidents at UCL must be reported using the riskNET 'Report an Incident' online tool.

UCL instructions for reporting incidents

  1. All incidents, accidents, near misses and work-related ill health must be reported.
  2. All reports must be recorded using the riskNET 'Report an Incident' online tool. 
  3. Anybody can report an incident – the individual, the individual's manager, witness, first aider etc. 
  4. All reports should have an Initial Assessment completed within working 5 days. It is the responsibility of the department whose people are at immediate risk to ensure someone is assigned to do this.

Report an incident

On this page

Why do we report?

UCL takes accidents and incidents seriously. Reporting plays a key role in effective safety management and this means not only reporting injuries but also all incidents including near misses or hazard observations.

Whilst nobody was harmed this time, there may be the potential for an injury to occur in the future.

You are reporting not just to protect yourself – you are reporting to protect and prevent others from injury or harm in the future.

Reporting incidents allows UCL the opportunity to understand the circumstances which caused the incident to occur. Identifying the root cause of incidents can help to prevent future injuries.

Through review and suitable investigation, lessons can be learned allowing UCL to improve arrangements for the management of risk across the university. 

Undertaking investigations enables UCL to: 

  • Identify the root cause.
  • Identify the existing control measures and whether they failed or can be improved.
  • Allow plan development to prevent the incident from happening again by improving control measures.
  • Point to areas where risk assessments need reviewing.
  • Identify areas where training may be needed.
  • Improve risk control in the workplace in the future.

Who should report?

Everybody has the responsibility to report. If something happens or if you see anything you feel is unsafe, report it. This can be an object, situation, or process. It is better to have duplicated reports of an incident than none, so report it yourself if you are not sure if an incident has been reported. Incidents that are ignored may increase the likelihood of more significant incidents later.

If it's not reported it won’t get sorted and could cause harm to somebody else later.

When should you report?

Straightaway or as soon as reasonably practicable. 

The longer you leave it the more details that you start to forget. Key information such as what you saw or what happened may become less clear or distorted. The longer the issue is left unresolved, the greater the risk of the same or a worse incident occurring. 

If it is a hazard observation or near miss, you could take a picture of what you saw. Even the location so that you remember exactly where it occurred. 

What should you report?

  • Accidents and incidents resulting in injury or damage to anyone or equipment on the property of UCL or on UCL business.
  • An unsafe observation, situation, or act with the potential to cause harm or damage.


Incident: An event that may or may not result in damage or loss, injury, or ill-health.

Accident: An event that results in damage or loss, injury or ill-health or harm where there was no injury (reported as work-related injury/student injury/damage or loss).

Near miss: An event that, while not causing harm, has the potential to cause damage, injury, or ill health. This could be something falling from a height that lands next to you.

Hazard observation: An unsafe condition or activity that could result in injury or loss. This could be a trailing wire that could trip someone up, a blocked fire exit that could prevent an emergency evacuation, or it could be an unsafe act of a person.

Examples of hazard observation, near miss and accident

Hazard observationNear missAccident

You see a ladder with a broken step.

You are using a ladder and almost step on a broken step.You are using a ladder and you step on a broken step and fall which results in you hurting your foot.
You see something hanging off the edge of a high shelf.Something falls off a high shelf and lands right next to you.Something falls off a high shelf and hits you on the head which results in you sustaining a cut to your head.
You see equipment that is leaking water.You almost slip on a puddle of water caused by leaking equipment.You slipped on a puddle of water caused by leaking equipment which results in you hurting your back.
You see a dimly lit workspace with poor visibility.You enter a dimly lit workspace and almost hit your head on something.You enter a dimly lit workspace and hit your head on something which results in you sustaining a bump on your head.
You see a chemical waste container that is overfilled.

You try to close the lid of an overfilled chemical waste container spilling some of the chemicals onto you but you are not injured.You try to close the lid of an overfilled chemical waste container spilling some of the chemicals onto you which results in you sustaining a chemical burn.
You notice that your clothing could get caught in the machinery that you are using.Your clothing gets caught in the machinery that you are using but your clothing does not rip and you are not injured.Your clothing gets caught in machinery that you are using dragging you to the machine and your clothes rip which results in you experiencing symptoms of shock.

Near misses can be an important risk indicator in the workplace, but they often go unreported. 

Accidents that happen outside the workplace do not need to be reported unless they happen whilst on company business.

Any observations of potential security threats should be reported directly to the UCL Security Team. For example, suspicious people trying to gain entry to buildings.

If a person is found in an area that they should not be in which is hazardous this should be reported as a hazard observation.

In an emergency call +44 (0)20 7679 2222 or UCL ext. 222 from any UCL phone.

Maintenance requests

Incident reports will not trigger a maintenance request for action and repair. Maintenance requests should be made to the Estates Customer Helpdesk. This could be a report of a broken ceiling tile that needs repair. If there is no imminent danger, report to the Estates Customer Helpdesk rather than through riskNET.

What happens to the report once you have reported it

All incident reports are sent to the incident co-ordinator for the department involved. The incident co-ordinator will send it to the person deemed responsible for this area/incident to complete an Initial Assessment. The incident report will also be seen by Safety Services. 

An Initial Assessment of the incident must be completed within 5 working days of submission and assesses:

  • What happened.
  • Why it happened and the underlying cause.
  • What is required to resolve it (if a simple incident).
  • The level of risk or the potential level of risk.

Depending on the level of risk further investigation may be required or the incident will be closed out. 

Some issues will be fixed quickly while others will take longer depending on what is needed to resolve the issue. This does not mean that nothing is happening. 

Benefits of reporting

Reporting incidents provides many benefits. Since the same factors that lead to a near miss or hazard observation can lead to an accident, monitoring them can help us take proactive action to:

  • Protect people by helping to prevent further or more serious incidents.
  • Help UCL comply with the law.
  • Identify unknown hazards or risks.
  • Identify trends when things go wrong.
  • Identify training needs.
  • Improve workplace health and safety.
  • Enhance the safety culture.
  • Develop more effective health and safety procedures.
  • Encourage employees to comply with health and safety policies.

riskNET incident types

Incident TypeDescription
Work-related injury

Incident resulting in an injury to a member of staff or student (other than undergraduate).

This includes injuries that are not visible or are short term, such as bruising, twists and sprains and even pain-only incidents, such as an item hitting somebody but there was no immediate bruising or visible damage.

Student Injury

Incident resulting in an injury to an undergraduate student.

This includes injuries that are not visible or are short term, such as bruising, twists and sprains and even pain-only incidents, such as an item hitting somebody but there was no immediate bruising or visible damage.

Student Residences (Security/Illness)Use of this incident type is restricted to illness or security-related incidents involving students at any of the student residences.
Violence at workIncidents that involve actual or threatened violence to staff or students on UCL premises or while on UCL 'business'.
Recreational/sporting accidentIncidents including injuries to people not taking part in 'work' including incidents in Residences.
Taken ill at workIncludes reports of staff/students who suffer the acute onset of illness at work. It does not cover staff who leave work due to minor illnesses such as colds. Staff absence due to illness must be reported using the sickness absence recording procedures (see HR website).
Road traffic accidentRoad traffic accidents (RTAs) whilst traveling on UCL business or in UCL vehicles. Does not include RTAs while traveling to and from work.
Damage or lossIncidents resulting in damage to equipment or loss of resources including lost time. This does not include theft which should be reported to UCL Security.
Hazard observationObservation of an unsafe condition or activity that could result in injury or loss.
Near missAn incident that, while not causing harm, has the potential to cause damage, injury, or ill health.
Fire incidentAn incident involving a real fire or activation of the fire alarm or use of a fire extinguisher or any injury resulting from a fire.
Pollution incidentIncidents involving actual or potential (i.e. near-miss) pollution, contamination or damage to air, land, water, flora, fauna and aquatic species. This includes exceeding environmental permit or external reporting requirements and notifications from environmental regulatory bodies.


Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR 2013) UCL has a statutory obligation to report certain types of incidents and accidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

Incidents reported to the HSE under RIDDOR are made by UCL Safety Services and Workplace Health.

Last updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2023