UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


Keeping Safe During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The following sections detail a number of key measures in place to ensure that everyone is able to work in a safe environment without fear of becoming ill and how to get access to the department.

Information on dealing with suspected cases can be found here.

The Chemical Engineering COVID-19 risk assessment can be found below. Please ensure that it is read if you are working on site.  

Access to the Department and Social Distancing

The department is currently available for access for everyone, including visitors, though new and returning staff / researchers will need to complete all mandatory training including a Fire Tour. Please contact Ralph Hick to organise onsite training. 

UCL currently expects all staff to return to work for at least 40% of the work week. 

There are no occupancy limits in the department; however, each room has CO2 monitoring. Where these alarm, please ventilate the room (by opening the door and any windows) and contact Simon Barrass to let them know the conditions in which they alarmed.

While on campus, we encourage at least 1 metre social distancing.  

Working Hours & Commute

The working hours in the department are 9 am to 7 pm.

Government advice is to avoid the use of public transport where possible. If you are able to, commute via walking or cycling. UCL Estates facilitated this by increasing the number of cycle parking facilities available on site.

Working hours can be extended on a case by case basis, where the work requires longer than a continuous 10 hours to complete or may accidentally overrun. Please see the information page on Working in Laboratories for more information.

Working from home is still the preferred option if this is possible


There are a number of measures that are taking place in order to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

  • Frequently touched surfaces (e.g. door handles, stair rails) in common areas of the building will be cleaned by UCL cleaners twice daily.
  • Lab coats and goggles are no longer shared within groups.
  • Lab coats will be laundered using a professional cleaning service as and when required.
  • Disinfectant sprays and cleaning tissue will be made available in all rooms for use in cleaning, either 70% isopropyl alcohol or a commercial disinfectant which the manufacturer has stated is suitable for Covid-19.
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers will be located at the main doors to the building and in every room without a sink. Note that alcohol-based hand sanitisers and disinfectant solutions are flammable.
  • Please report any issues to Melanie Ingle immediately.
Face Coverings

Face coverings are important to minimise the spread of the virus. The following is what we are asking people in the department.

  • If you can wear a face covering, then you are stronly encouraged to do so when working in crowded and enclosed spaces. 
  • Staff and researchers are encouraged to leave their work area to take their lunch break. 
  • Face coverings do not have to be PPE grade, though reusable cloth masks are most effective if closely fitting and made from 2-3 layers of close weave cloth.
  • N95 (or FFP2) respirators provide the best protection followed by surgical masks.
  • A face covering featuring an exhalation vale (e.g. cycling mask) offers little protection to others from aerosols emitted by the wearer.
  • The face covering must be clean and changed daily, and care should be taken during the day not to touch the face or face covering.
Wellbeing - On Site and Off Site

Personal wellbeing is important for everyone during these uncertain times. The Chemical Engineering Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion Team has a wealth of information on support and wellbeing. 

If your mental wellbeing is suffering directly or indirectly as a result of how a person/group is conducting themselves, the Department has created the below form for you to complete.

Anonymous Reporting Form - Submissions are seen by the Department Manager ONLY in the first instance but may be shared with other Professional Services team members and/or the Head of Department if deemed necessary.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) for home working can be organised by each individual PI. 

Updates, Communication, Additional Resources

The departmental safety team will ensure that any issues, queries, or complaints that have arisen from staff and researchers will be dealt with quickly. 

Any changes to policy will be communicated promptly to all members of the department through emails, with appropriate signage or policy altered where applicable. Where issues have arisen from the new policy, contact the DSO directly, to ensure that any issues can be solved without delay. 

Staff and researchers must report any Health and Safety issues, including non-compliance to social distancing or areas that the Department can improve, on RiskNET as Hazard Observations.

The below sources of information are available to all staff and students and are updated on a regular basis. It is your responsibility to read the information and act according to the guidelines: 

UCL - Coronavirus Hub Website 

UCL - Testing, reporting and managing potential cases

UCL - Covid-19 update email 

Government - Coronavirus Website

NHS - Coronavirus Website

Road to Reopening

Due to a successful reopening application the Department of Chemical Engineering was one of the first UCL departments to open its doors to researchers and staff on 1st of June 2020. This initial pilot study involved 10 experienced researchers and a Laboratory Manager from the Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL). While ensuring multiple labs could be safely used and become fully operational after three months of no use, they gave feedback to UCL on how to manage a reopening. 

After a successful trial other groups in the department were invited back prepare their areas and start research again, with all groups and a majority of lab-based researchers back by August 2020.