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Incident response and reporting

The most important responsibility of any employee who engages with youth in UW programs is to protect them from harm. In the event of an accident, injury or other incident that poses a threat to the safety or well-being of any youth, it is important to respond in a proactive manner. The following guidance on responding to incidents involving youth in UW programs includes steps required per University policy as well as recommended best practices.

A proactive response includes:

  • Intervening quickly to prevent or minimize harm
  • Assessing a situation and making adjustments to prevent a future recurrence
  • Documenting incidents with all relevant details
    • Gather information on who (the affected youth, witnesses), what (details of what happened, including actions taken by staff and others), where (including relevant environmental factors that may have caused or contributed to the incident), when (time, date), and why (any objective information that contributes to an understanding of the incident’s cause or origin).
  • Reporting the incident, as appropriate, to the relevant individual or office
    • Incident reporting requirements for employees and volunteers may differ slightly than those outlined here for a youth program participant. Consult with your department administrator regarding requirements to report incidents involving employees or volunteers.

Complete these steps within a 24-48 hour period, depending on the urgency of the situation and need for immediate intervention.

Different actions apply depending on the level of risk associated with a particular incident. Certain incidents may be characterized as “low risk” while others may be considered “high risk.” There are grey areas within every situation. When in doubt, treat an incident as “high risk.”

Low risk incidents

A “low risk” incident is one where the impact to an individual or group of youths is both minor and temporary. Low risk incidents are not caused by a hazard in the environment.

Low risk incident occurs
Document internally (see sample minor incident log)

Retain records for 6 years from the program end date


  • Minor injuries, e.g., scrapes or bumps to the body that do not require medical attention beyond basic first aid, and are not the result of an unsafe condition or hazard in the program environment.
  • Non-communicable illnesses that result in a child needing to sit out of an activity, or be sent home for the day.
  • Behavioral problems or verbal conflicts between participants that necessitate staff intervention.
    • Note: If a behavior plan/contract is initiated this should be documented in an incident report.

High risk incidents

A “high risk” incident originates from a hazard or unsafe condition in the program or the environment. The incident poses a serious risk to an individual or group of youth. This may also include a “near miss,” i.e., a hazard that if not addressed could cause harm in the future. Contact UW Risk Services in any case where there is a concern for a possible claim of negligence or liability.

High risk incident occurs

Document internally (see sample incident report form)

Report to relevant authority (as applicable)

Retain records for 6 years from the program end date


  • Suspected child abuse or neglect
    Report to: DSHS Child Protective Services (CPS) or police (911 if emergency); also report to SafeCampus if the incident took place at a UW facility, in a UW program, or involved UW staff or volunteers
  • Injury of staff or participant that requires professional medical attention, or that was caused by interacting with the environment
    Report to: OARS, Facilities Care Team
  • Violation of the University Standards for Interacting with Youth
  • Report to: SafeCampus
  • A threat of serious harm to self or others
    Report to: 911
  • Anything requiring intervention by police (e.g., missing child, safety concerns)
    Report to: 911
  • Hazardous materials exposure or spills
    Report to: 911 and EHS Spill Advice line
  • Termination or withdrawal of a participant with potential intersections with civil rights, e.g., concerns regarding discrimination
    Report to: Disability Services Office (as applicable), Title IX office (as applicable)
  • Critical staff errors, such as incorrect administration of medication, or an injury caused by a staff person
    Report to: OARS

Resources for responding to and reporting incidents involving minors

Note: These resources are applicable to any UW property unless otherwise noted


UW contact information

Sample Incident Log PDF .docx
Sample Incident Report form PDF| .docx
Online Accident Reporting System workplace incident reporting tool
Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) Spill Advice 206-543-0467
Risk Services
Disability Services Office
Executive Order 56: Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
Title IX Coordinator
Administrative Policy Statement 10.9: Minors in Labs and Shops
SafeCampus 206-685-7233
UW Records Management Services
Facilities Services