Death Notification Procedures

Procedures in Response to Death or Serious Injury of Faculty or Staff

These guidelines provide direction to university personnel for appropriate response and notification to next-of-kin and colleagues in the event of a faculty or staff member’s death.

Death on site

Upon the death of a faculty or staff member in the workplace, the University of Michigan Police Department (UMPD) should be immediately notified and the incident site and worksite of the employee should be secured until released by the UMPD. Death or serious injuries need to be reported to Risk Management at 734-764-2200. After-hours notification can be made through the Police Department. Risk Management will notify MIOSHA within eight hours as required by law.

Notification to next of kin

University personnel should not notify relatives of a faculty or staff member’s death. The health care agency (e.g. hospital, coroner, etc.) which determines that death has occurred or the appropriate law enforcement agency are responsible for death notifications.University personnel should not participate in notification for the following reasons:

  • Death notification should be made only by personnel trained to communicate such news in an appropriate manner and who are able to provide medical or other necessary assistance to the recipient of the death notification.
  • Death notification should always be in person by a health care provider or law enforcement officer.
  • Parties providing death notification need to be certain of the decedent’s identity and that notification is being made to the appropriate person.

Mass casualties

In the case of mass casualties, the U-M Office of Public Affairs is responsible for working with health care and law enforcement agencies regarding public notification of deaths. University personnel should refer all inquiries to the Office of Public Affairs and should not provide any information outside of that process.

Notification to colleagues of a faculty or staff member’s death

An HR Incident Management Team member will work with appropriate university administrators to identify the university representative who should notify the colleagues of the decedent. The university representative will most likely be the faculty or staff member’s supervisor. Information about the counseling and support services available via the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and the Michigan Medicine Employee Assistance Program will be provided.

Communication with next of kin after death notification

The university representative, most likely the faculty or staff member’s supervisor, will be selected to communicate with next of kin, after death notification has been confirmed. The university representative should be the next of kin’s primary contact with the university. If death notification is work related, contact with next of kin will be coordinated through Risk Management Services.The university representative will collaborate with the department’s central HR representative (or Michigan Medicine HR representative) to work with the family regarding:

  • Identifying the Benefits Office contact person for benefits and insurance information;
  • Return of personal belongings;
  • Access to personal information on email accounts;
  • Distribution of final paycheck;
  • Return of university property (e.g., keys, laptop computers, files, cell phones, etc.)

Supportive and compassionate response to grieving relatives

Grieving relatives/friends may contact decedent’s colleagues and/or supervisors for information. Refer all questions regarding the decedent’s employment status (e.g., personal belongings, paycheck, benefits, and email accounts) to the university representative. Refer questions about work-related cause of death to Risk Management. For questions about any university response to the event, refer to the appropriate designated university representative.

Personal belongings

The university representative should box up all of the decedent’s belongings and deliver to the HR representative for distribution to the appropriate next of kin.This step will ensure that the correct next of kin receives the belongings. Do not allow the decedent’s family members or friends direct access to the decedent’s office, locker or other workplace storage areas.