As the University research operations move from Red (essential operations only) to Orange (limited operations), it is essential that all personnel comply with the additional safety measures meant to minimize the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The primary goal of these measures is to allow you to maintain your research, while at the same time taking prudent steps to minimize the risk of transmission if someone who is infected comes to work. Remember, the vast majority of people are NOT contagious, but it is prudent to assume everyone is, including yourself.
You should only come to campus for work that absolutely has to be completed onsite, and your visit should be as brief as possible. Carefully schedule your visits with your supervisor and co-workers to minimize the number of people who are onsite at any given time. In addition, only healthy individuals should report to work. Irrespective of whether you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may only come to campus if:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers), AND
- You do not have any other Flu-like symptoms (for example, cough or shortness of breath), AND
- At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. AND
- You have not had contact with anyone who is COVID positive (including the 5 days before they were positive) for 14 days.
- Please note that these guidance points are expected to change as the CDC updates and releases new information. CDC guidance for COVID-19 may be adapted by federal, state, and local health departments to respond to rapidly changing local circumstances. For the most up-to-date CDC guidance, please go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/return-to-work.html
The specific health and safety requirements for laboratory work include:
- Small rooms (e.g., office, procedure room, tissue culture room) should have no more than one occupant.
- Occupants must always maintain at least 6-feet of separation between people AND work areas. For example, only one person per bay or one person per half bay, depending on lab configuration.
- In person interactions should be limited to < 10 people with at least 6 feet of separation at all times.
- Everyone is expected to wear face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- To avoid physical overlap, time at the lab should be scheduled, such as through calendaring.
- Each lab should maintain a check list of surfaces to sanitize at the start and end of each shift, including shared equipment and fridge doors/handles, etc.
- Try to avoid bringing food or drink to work. No eating or drinking in laboratories. As a reminder, equipment (refrigerators, microwaves, etc) in break rooms are NOT sanitized by custodians.
It is helpful to keep in mind that if an infectious person does come to work, all those who had close contact with that individual will be required to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. The protection measures are meant to keep the number of those contacts to the lowest number possible, and reduce the chances of transmission if contact does occur.
Compliance with these requirements is absolutely essential to the collective health and safety of the campus. Therefore, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) will take the following actions:
- Research Building Walk-Throughs: EHS personnel will conduct frequent and random walk-throughs of all research buildings with the primary purpose of checking compliance and issuing reminders and suggesting corrective actions, when necessary.
- Anonymous Reporting of Concerns: Workplace hazards and health and safety concerns, including non-compliance with physical distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols, can be reported through the EHS hazard form:
All reports will be treated as confidential and followed up on as soon as possible.
Violations of the health and safety protocols will be reported to the Vice President for Research Office and will result in immediate suspension of laboratory operations.
Protecting the health and safety of our research and greater campus community is our number one priority and one we take very seriously. Working together, we can accomplish great things, safely.