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Working Safely During the Pandemic

This page provides guidance on how to manage the health and safety of staff at UCL during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Remote working and DSE assessment


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of staff are working from home and may continue to do so for an extended period. UCL is running a workstation assessment programme for all staff and postgraduates to reduce the risks of employee ill-health associated with the use of display screen equipment (DSE). You should follow UCL guidance on Returning to Work.

> Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Assessment

Guidance for dynamic risk assessments for working at home

  • Do a visual inspection of your work area including any electrical items to ensure safe working
  • Make an appropriate space for comfortable working 
  • Ensure walkways are clear of wires and other trip hazards

Social distancing at work


You must not physically come into work unless you are one of UCL's authorised key workers and/or you are undertaking research in the immediate national interest.  

If you do need to come to work, this must be with the agreement of your manager. They must be aware of where you are, what you are doing and when you have left and you should maintain social distancing in accordance with Government guidance.

  • Leave one workstation space between people
  • Take your break outside rather small break areas
  • Do not share food
  • Maintain good hygiene standards by washing your hands regularly
  • Ensure risk assessments are updated – less people means alternative arrangements for fire, accidents and other arrangements will be needed
  • Communicate all alterations of normal working practice with your line management so that it can be co-ordinated for your safety

Travelling to work during the pandemic


If you must travel to work during the pandemic:

  • Travel outside peak times where possible
  • Wash your hands before leaving home and follow the good hygiene advice
  • On arrival at UCL, wash your hands again and follow the good hygiene advice
  • Open windows where you can

If you have to travel with work equipment, do not carry a load whose size or weight presents a manual handling risk. Use rucksacks and/or wheeled bags where possible. 

Do not take risks in the event that there is an attempt to steal laptops or UCL equipment from you. DO NOT put yourself at risk – allow the equipment to be taken and report the incident immediately to your Line Manager.

For information on walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the pandemic, refer to government guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Lone working 


Current events may present new situations which will involve working alone. These will need to be risk assessed. Existing lone working arrangements are also likely to need review. 

For concerns regarding lone working during this period please refer to our Lone Working safety pages.

Lone working →

Feeling unwell


If you start to feel unwell or have any symptoms (high temperature, dry cough, shortness of breath) please self-isolate in line with the current Government advice and inform your manager. It is likely that Government advice will change as more is known about the virus so check it regularly. 

If you do experience COVID-19 symptoms, please complete the Workplace Health Form form to notify Workplace Health. 

> Workplace health form

Advice for Managers 


Management support during this time is essential to support staff, ensuring risk assessments are carried out and your employees are maintaining comfortable home working conditions is key to both their safety and wellbeing.  

> Support for line managers

Risk assessments and checklists


Risk assessments should be undertaken to manage new risks. Existing risk assessments should also be reviewed to include any adjustments or additional activities being undertaken and to consider the risks from COVID-19. Further information can be found on our risk assessment pages. 

On-site working at UCL

A generic risk assessment (subject to further update) covering key risks associated with a return to UCL of people and activity in addition to critical workers is available through riskNET - search for RA035341/4 – Title: General risk assessment to support a return to on-site working at UCL - to be adapted by each department.

Each new version of the risk assessment will be identified by a change in the version number e.g. RA035341/1, RA035341/2 etc. Please ensure to attach a copy of the approved checklist (refer below) for return to on-site working at UCL with your risk assessment.

The risk assessment will be updated to reflect changing circumstances, emerging evidence, and/or national guidance as it becomes available. 

Starting or resuming Fieldwork at non-UCL settings

Fieldwork applies to all Schools and Departments, to work that takes place away from University campuses or premises (e.g. fieldwork, consultancy, work-based placement learning, University vehicles), where UCL is responsible for the safety of its staff, students, or others who may be affected by their activities. Further information can be found on our fieldwork pages. 

  • A generic risk assessment (subject to further update) covering key risks associated with a return to fieldworks (UK only) of people and activity in addition to critical workers is available through riskNET - search for RA036625/3 – Title: General risk assessment to support a return to fieldwork trips or another outdoor working in the UK only - to be adapted by each department.
  • A generic risk assessment (subject to further update) covering key risks associated with a return to overseas fieldworks of people and activity in addition to critical workers is available through riskNET - search for RA041814/1 – Title: General risk assessment to support a return to OVERSEAS fieldwork trips or another outdoor working in the UK only - to be adapted by each department.
  • A generic risk assessment (subject to further update) covering key risks associated with a return to fieldworks (fieldworkers currently residing or located overseas i.e. outside of UK) of people and activity in addition to critical workers is available through riskNET - search for RA037064/3 – Title: General risk assessment to support a return to fieldworks - only to be adapted by UCL departments and research groups currently located/residing overseas (outside of UK).

The risk assessments will be updated to reflect changing circumstances, emerging evidence, and/or national guidance as it becomes available. 

> riskNET (UCL Login required)

Video Tutorial: Access and Create Return to working at UCL risk assessment

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/BD576Fj4

 

Checklists for return to on-site working at UCL

The phased return to UCL will be driven by guidelines from the UK Government and Public Health England (PHE) and based on operational priorities. In order to ensure the safety of the UCL community, Safety Services have suggested a number of additional points on top of UK Government guidance. Departments are expected to manage their own arrangements to comply with institutional policies and government guidance.

Checklist Part 1 focusses on priority measures for infection prevention and control, but includes a wider range of considerations, such as statutory compliance in reopening buildings. The checklist are detailed but non-exhaustive lists of measures to consider. Further guidance is included at the end of the checklist. Please ensure to attach a copy of approved checklist with return to on site working at UCL risk assessment. Please download a copy of Checklist Part 1 using the link below.

Return to UCL checklist Part 1 for Departments

Checklist Part 2 & Part 3 focusses on ensuring that immediately after reopening, departments have addressed priority measures for safety, infection prevention and control (Immediate Actions). It also incudes a checklist for the period of time beyond the initial reopening (Ongoing Actions). Further guidance is included at the end of the checklist. Please ensure to attach a copy of approved checklist with return to on site working at UCL risk assessment. Please download a copy of Checklist Part 2 & Part 3 using the link below.

Return to UCL checklist Part 2 & Part 3 for Departments

List of Generic COVID-19 risk assessments

Safety Services has developed a number of risk assessments and associated guidance to support UCL departments as they consider COVID-19 measures and their return to campus. These risk assessments can be adapted to suit the specific activities of individual departments. The use of riskNET to produce risk assessments is mandatory at UCL.

There are also a number of generic risk assessments available to assist:

  • RA035341/4 – General risk assessment to support a return to 'on site' working.
  • RA038805 – In-person education activity covers use of lecture theatres, seminar rooms, teaching laboratories, studios and workshops.
  • RA037835 – Experimental testing involving human participants.
  • RA039727 – Student external enrichment activity includes walking tours, visits to local museums but not events where the purpose is not educational settings.
  • RA036625/3 – General risk assessment to support a return to fieldwork trips or another outdoor working in the UK only.
  • RA041814/1 – General risk assessment to support a return to OVERSEAS fieldwork trips or another outdoor working in the UK only.
  • RA037064/3 – General risk assessment to support a return to fieldwork by UCL departments and research groups currently located/residing overseas (outside of UK). 

    Return to work at UCL

    Departments are required to document their new arrangements for the phased return to on-site working and make sure that all returning staff are familiar with them. Safety Services has created a template to assist departments in documenting their arrangements for staff.  

    > Download the Return to Work template

    Return to work health and safety induction

    Before returning to campus all staff must complete the Return to UCL induction course on MyLearning. Associate staff or staff unable to access MyHR will need to have a role account set up. See the ISD page on how to ‘Request an account’.

    If you are an interim member of staff and do not have a UPI, you can complete the offline version of the Return to UCL induction.

    > Guidance on completing offline Return to UCL induction course
    > Return to UCL induction course - offline version

    Mandatory monitoring

    To ensure compliance with implemented Covid-19 risk control measures, UCL’s Health and Safety Committee has approved monthly mandatory monitoring.

    All departments must ensure they carry out this monitoring each month after they have been given permission to come back to campus.

    Monitoring must be carried out using UCL’s reporting software riskNET (UCL login required) and inspection template AT0093 starting one month after reoccupation of premises controlled by a department.

    COVID Compliance Inspections


    UCL’s Health and Safety Committee has approved a mandatory safety monitoring programme to ensure compliance with COVID-19 risk control measures as defined in UCL generic and departmental risk assessments. Safety monitoring, in the form of inspections, is an important part of UCL’s safety management system as it provides information on the effectiveness of the risk control measures. In addition to the monthly inspections required by all departments that have returned to campus, Safety Services are required to carry out independent inspections as part of their assurance responsibilities. This gives a mechanism to check compliance and identify areas for improvement.

    To review the inspection report including observations, non-conformities and required actions please access the UCL reporting system riskNET and review inspection report (e.g. AU123456). See video tutorial below to access and review Audit & Inspection Reports.

    > riskNET (UCL Login required)

    Video Tutorial: Access and Review Audit & Inspection Reports

    MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/J78J1afD

      First aid cover


      UCL's 'return to on-site working checklists' for departments will assure that first aid facilities provided are made safe for the first aider to give immediate help to workers if taken ill or are injured at work. The following are additional requirements for departments who are planning their return to work in line with the checklists.

      • If there are changes to staffing levels, departments will need to ensure there is sufficient first aid cover for the number of staff on-site and the activities being undertaken
      • Review departmental first aid needs assessment and decide the number of first aiders required for the number of staff who will be present and the activities that they are doing. This could be by a sharing agreement with another department
      • Determine whether returning first aider(s) are still comfortable with and agree to provide first aid. Names of First Aiders must be entered into the Department’s Responsible Persons Register in riskNET as a formal record if they have not already been entered. Those who no longer want to undertake the role must be removed from the register 
      • Where there are no first aiders departments can designate an “Appointed person (first aid)” to take charge of first aid arrangements
      • Departments must inform everyone about the first aid arrangements including any shared first aiders, e.g. how to contact them and how to get help directly via 222 or 999 and the arrangement for receiving medical personnel when they arrive at the scene
      • Departments must not carry out high risk activities without adequate first aid provision 
      • Provide returning first aiders with further guidance

      Guidance for returning first aiders

      Face fit testing


      A face fit test must be carried out before using Respiratory Protective Equipment as inadequate fit can reduce the protection provided and lead to immediate or long-term health problems.

      Face fit testing →

      The guidance below (subject to review) is in line with Health and Safety Executive guidelines and provides temporary information on fit testing face masks to avoid transmission during the Covid-19 pandemic.

      Face fit testing during COVID-19 pandemic →

      Departmental Responsible Persons Register

      UCL Departments are required to identify their trained and experienced departmental face fit testers and record them in the riskNET Departmental Responsible Persons Register.

      Laboratory safety guidance


      The UCL Genetic Modification & Biosafety Committee has approved new guidance for those planning to work with samples from confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients, or those planning to work with the virus directly. 

      Please make sure you consult this document before preparing any research proposals. It's important there is a consistent approach across UCL and that all laboratory research with patient samples or viral cultures is carried out to the same high standard.

      Guidance for Laboratory work with SARS-CoV-2 virus

      T100 Programme


      Many of you are already progressing your T100 journey and are working with your Safety Services lead advisor to identify the strengths of your department’s safety management system. Under normal circumstances, this journey would continue via a number of scheduled face-to-face meetings, but this sadly, isn’t possible.

      However, be assured that your lead advisors are on hand to offer advice and guidance on appropriate next steps. They will continue to work with your departments in a positive and proactive way to move the programme forward. 

      If you need to reach out, all members of Safety Services are available via teams, mobile, and email and would be happy to assist you.

      T100 →