Safety Services


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.

For the latest information on UCL's approach for dealing with the pandemic, refer to the main UCL webpages:

Coronavirus Information Pages

On these pages you can find the answers to frequently asked questions for students and staff, and links to further information, resources and support.

Coronavirus information →

Keeping safe on campus

UCL has provided resources containing the latest information about what we’re doing to protect our staff and students and how you can help keep campus as safe as possible.

Keeping safe on campus →

On this page 

Remote working and DSE assessment

As most legal restrictions have been lifted on Monday 19th July, many of those that have been remote working throughout the pandemic will return to working on campus in some capacity. There will be a balance between working on-site and remote working. 

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). It is important to follow the principles for a good DSE workstation both when on campus or working remotely. You should complete a DSE assessment on riskNET for your main place of work (where you work most often).

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

COVID-19 risk assessments 

To ensure the safety of all staff, students and visitors at UCL, Departments must have COVID-19 risk assessments in place. 

To support this, Safety Services have created a number of generic risk assessments in riskNET to cover the key risks for departments to use and adapt locally to suit their specific activities. These assessments are subject to further update when Government and UCL advice changes.

For further information, refer to the webpage below:

COVID-19 RIsk Assessments →

Travelling to work

As most workers begin to return to UCL in some capacity, it is important to follow the good practices listed below to reduce the spread of coronavirus when travelling:

  • 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. 

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 webpage.

Lone working →

Testing, reporting and managing potential cases

For information on what to do if you or someone else thinks they have coronavirus, how to get a test if you don’t have symptoms, how we're planning for a potential outbreak, and confirmed cases at UCL, refer to the webpage below:

Testing, reporting and managing potential cases →

Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests (LFT) to check for coronavirus. You should get tested twice a week, every 3-4 days. For further information, refer to the webpage below:

Symptom-free testing →

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

Fire safety training

To mitigate the risk of people failing to evacuate UCL occupied space in the event of an emergency, all staff returning to work must complete Fire Safety Training prior to their return. Staff must also complete a local fire safety induction and building familiarisation (TN086), carried out either virtually or face-to-face by a line manager, Departmental Safety Officer (DSO) or a senior fire evacuation marshal (FEM).

Please note: those who have undertaken the eLearning course within the last 24 months (via Moodle or MyLearning) will not be required to complete the training. However, they will still be required to complete the local fire safety induction and building familiarisation (TN086).

COVID compliance monitoring

As most restrictions relating to COVID-19 have been lifted, departments no longer need to carry out monthly inspections through RiskNET (audit template AT0093) but, to ensure that UCL remains a COVID-19 secure workplace, will still need to monitor control measures through routine workplace inspections.

The following risk control measures must be added to departmental routine inspection checklists:

  • Where possible, windows are opened to increase ventilation?
  • Mechanical ventilation systems are operational?
  • Hand sanitising facilities are available and being used when entering a building and throughout the building especially where equipment may be shared?
  • Staff and students continue to wear face coverings when in the building?
  • Log for shared PPE in place and being used?

The inspection template AT0093 will not be removed should departments want to continue using it to monitor their COVID-19 control measures.  Safety Services are still required to provide assurance that the COVID-19 control measures are being adhered to and as part of this will be requesting evidence from departments that the risk control measures above are being routinely inspected.

    Support resources

    Many of us have be working from home with limited interactions with others. A range of resources are available to support UCL employees during this time.

    Management support  is essential to support your staff during these difficult times and ensure they maintain their health, safety and wellbeing.  Support and resources are available for line managers at the links below. .  

    First aid

    • 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

    Fire evacuation marshals (FEM)

    Departments should ensure there are sufficient numbers of FEMs available in occupied working spaces to successfully implement the fire evacuation arrangements and to assist all persons evacuating the building safely. Fire marshals will be required for all workspaces, even in areas of reduced occupancy.

    To achieve a suitable number of FEMs, departments may need to consider implementing a rota / schedule for their work areas to ensure suitable FEM coverage throughout the working day.

    Face fit testing

    A face fit test should be carried out the first time a worker uses a particular type 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