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This message focuses on information for staff working in non-Covid-19 laboratories returning in wave 2 from Monday 15 June. It includes guidance concerning the return to site for laboratory-based staff, emailed last week.  

Dear Colleagues,    

As you will be aware, the return to work for non-Covid-19 laboratories started this week and we should now like to move to wave 2 of this process. This letter reflects that and re-states the detail which requires your careful attention as the contents are important. Full information is available on the Return to Site webpages.    

  We wish to re-emphasise that staff and students who can work from home should continue to do so. Importantly, at this point, we are only asking those that wish to return, to come back. Your circumstances may mean you do not wish to return to laboratory work at present, for example due to family commitments, caring for a vulnerable individual or you may simply feel concerned about being back on site.    

We continue to work hard to put plans in place and to ensure that your return is as safe as possible. The health and safety of all staff and students remains the University’s responsibility, including deciding who returns to campus and when this is feasible.      

Please note that the University’s guidance for return is in line with specific government advice for laboratories, which differs from guidance for NHS Trusts.      

Wave 2    

The second wave of people who can return from Monday 15th June includes all those staff who:  

  • Are Research Institute members or joint members doing scientific laboratory work    

  • Who cannot work from home    

PhD and MDRes students who have laboratory work that they wish to continue may return at the same time and are being written to separately. MRes students are not to return yet but will be written to shortly so they can return to lab work.    

Returning to site    

If your circumstances mean you should be included in the group above, you must and probably already have discussed and agreed your return with your PI/line manager.      

Staff should discuss and agree their return with their PI/line manager.   

There is some preparation that you will need to do before coming back. First, you will need to read/review the following documents as they have changed and have been updated for lab work in the Covid-19 era:    

  • Key Principles    

  • Social Distancing Guidance    

  • Fire evacuation procedure    

If this has not already been done in your area then PIs/line managers must complete the following forms:    

  • A new risk assessment for your area of work (lab and office)    

  • New local rules updated for social distancing measures (template available)    

  • Complete a lab inspection before any work can commence    

 These forms must be sent to the RIM before any work can commence. The forms and guidance to support these processes are available on the Health and Safety website and help is available from the SHE office (health@sgul.ac.uk).      

If these forms have already been completed by your PI or designated person who returned to work in wave 1 then please read them carefully including all relevant COSHH/risk assessment forms to make sure you know what do in the event of an accident or spill.      

Changes to ways of working    

Please remember that returning to Jenner is for laboratory work only and writing up or data analysis should still be performed at home.      

For everyone’s safety, there will be some changes on site. For example:    

  • There will be sign-posted directional routes for entering/exiting and going up/down between floors in Hunter and Jenner buildings.    

  • We have installed more hand gel dispensers at key locations but we also ask you to wash your hands regularly in addition to good laboratory practice.  

  • We wish to ensure that social distancing measures are in place in laboratories and offices and hot desking is discouraged. This means that there will be maximum capacity caps in lab and office areas. These will be defined by you in your local rules.  

  • Some groups may have to work in shifts to accommodate these requirements. Whether this means working at different times of the day or on different days will be up to PIs to decide.    

We do not encourage working out of hours, since support from Research Operations and other teams is limited at such times. We will monitor out of hours usage (after 7.00pm Monday-Friday and at weekends) and if this is greater than normal then we shall review.      

If you wish to wear a mask/face covering you may. Currently this is not compulsory but government guidance may change.      

Government guidelines encourage you to bring in your own food and drink; you can use kitchens to make a hot drink or similar but first wash your own hands and always remember social distancing guidelines in these areas must be adhered to and you must clean up carefully after yourself.      

You should also be aware that arrangements for obtaining clinical research specimens or using clinical facilities in any way, will depend on the clinical realities at present and will require discussion with clinical collaborators. At the moment the CRF is Covid-19 focused but we expect other clinical research to resume soon. The BRF is open and the Imaging Facility is opening on 22 June.    

For those who are planning to return, now is the time to start ordering your consumables and we hope your next experiments are a success!      

Finally, it is hard to predict everything so please act sensibly. You are welcome to get in touch with us, if there is anything that concerns you or which you simply think could be done better. At St George’s, we value supportive teamwork and this approach has never been more important than now.    

Best wishes,    

Jon S Friedland, Deputy Principal (Research & Enterprise)

Deborah Baines, Chair of Safety Management Committee 

 

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