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Reopening Research Laboratories - Online Meeting 18th May 2020

posted Jun 22, 2020, 12:38 AM by Rob Haigh   [ updated Jun 22, 2020, 12:40 AM ]
Following discussions relating to a range of issues around the proposed reopening of Chemistry (and other) research laboratories at UK Universities UCSF held its first Virtual meeting.  This page provides a brief overview of the meeting and some associated information.

The meeting was attended by almost 100 individuals representing scientific research areas throughout the UK and enormous thanks must go to the organisers who worked behind the scenes to set everything up and ensure it ran smoothly.

The meeting was addressed by Prof. Colin Pulham, University of Edinburgh and current Chair of Heads of Chemistry UK (HCUK), who outlined the challenges and issues around the ongoing closures and how these could best be tackled (slides available to view below).

A number of members provided presentations and a wide ranging and stimulating discussion was held around the topics:
  • Social distancing in Laboratories.
  • Who should be returning to work, what work is to be undertaken and how can this be best managed.
  • PPE and face coverings.
  • Restart after lock down - start-up and cleaning, cleaning regimes after opening.
  • Writing and implementing COVID-19 risk assessments for laboratories.
It became clear that given the different situations faced across the country (variations around national guidance and timescales) that a "one size fits all" approach would be difficult to implement, matters arising were, but not limited to: 
  • Occupancy will depend on layout of labs, number of entrances and type of work being performed in each area. 
  • Will need to consider supervision for safety reasons, will groups be able to share this responsibility.
  • Does a rota system need to be considered?
  • Staggered start times.
  • This will depend on experience and has to be taken into account.
  • Also need to consider shared equipment use and use of workbench, fume cupboards and cleaning and disinfection of such.
  • May need to adopt a "clean bench" philosophy.
  • Need to consider the building as a whole, toilets, common rooms, etc.
  • RA of all activities and restrictions required due to limited working hours and occupancy. 
  • There is a fair amount of ambiguity regards face masks/face coverings
There are a great many challenges posed by the ongoing situation and each University will be moving at their own pace to implement safe working environments for their staff and students, whilst also ensuring that the core research activities can be restarted in a controlled manner.
  
A number of Universities have already implemented processes and procedures and we look forward to hearing about these in the future: 
  • What has worked well. 
  • What issues arose and how were they overcome.
  • What have we learnt and can take forward as a "new way of working".
  • How can these issues be better managed in the future. 
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Rob Haigh,
Jun 22, 2020, 12:38 AM
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Rob Haigh,
Jun 22, 2020, 12:38 AM