Working during COVID-19

This is Wolfson's page to keep staff up-to-date with the latest actions taken, and latest advice offered, by the College during the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Please read carefully the procedures outlined below. 

On this page:

Introduction

The safety of our staff is a top priority. We have therefore fully assessed the risks of working in the College in the new COVID-19 era, and are determined to do all that we can to make the environment as safe as possible. The full risk assessment and supporting documents are available here.

We have used this risk assessment, as well as the Government’s published advice, to develop this safety plan, which covers the general operation of the College. Heads of Department, in cooperation with the Health and Safety Manager, have conducted specific risk assessments and developed bespoke safety plans for each area of operation and will share those with the relevant staff. Heads of Department are responsible for implementing and managing safety measures in their teams.

In finalising this safety plan, we have consulted with all staff and taken their views and concerns on board, and we will continue to update the plan as staff operating at the College in these new circumstances feedback their experience and ideas. All staff must adhere to this safety plan at all times.

Key to a safe environment is the need to continue with strict social distancing, limit gatherings and the number of people in the College, vary travel times, control movement around the College and rigorous cleaning and hygiene. We must all be prepared to adapt the way we work to ensure everyone’s safety. However, once the risks diminish sufficiently (for example, when the rate of infection is negligible or a vaccine is in place), many of these restrictions will gradually be eased.

To further strengthen the awareness of COVID-19 risks and related safety measures we require all staff and managers to complete an online module prior to or shortly after their return to the College .Click here to start the module.

Working from Home

To limit numbers in College and aid social distancing, staff should continue to work from home whenever possible. Managers should ensure that only people who cannot work remotely attend College. This is likely to include:

  • Workers in roles critical for business and operational continuity, health and safety management, or regulatory requirements and which cannot be performed remotely: for example; estates, facilities, health and safety, housekeeping, catering and lodge staff.
  • Workers in critical roles which could be performed remotely, but who are unable to work remotely due to home circumstances or the unavailability of safe enabling equipment.

Heads of Departments will consult their staff on working arrangements, taking into account the needs of the college and the individual’s circumstances, and will ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally, and that every effort will be made to enable working from home where possible.

You must complete a risk assessment and a display screen equipment workstation checklist here to ensure that you are working safely at home, and must discuss any concerns, assistance or equipment needed with your Head of Department in the first instance. Any IT issues should be reported to it.support@wolfson.ox.ac.uk as usual.

If you need any items of furniture, fixtures and fittings (for example, chairs, desk lamps, foot stools), to assist you working from home, you can request these through the Facilities Assistant (marie.johnson@wolfson.ox.ac.uk or phone 01865 274186). Some staff working remotely may need to come into College on occasions to undertake tasks that cannot be completed remotely (for example, retrieving a file or using specialist equipment for a particular task), and should make arrangements through their Head of Department. Heads of Department will keep in contact with staff working from home to monitor and assist with their wellbeing and to make sure that they are kept informed of developments in the College.

Working in the College

If your role cannot be carried out from home and you need to come to the College, you must comply with the following restrictions and activities, which have been put in place to ensure everyone’s safety

Attending College

Before coming into College you must ensure that you are well and not displaying any symptoms of COVID -19: please see the NHS guidance here. If you feel unwell, please stay at home and let your Head of Department know straight away. You must stay home until you are sure that you do not have any relevant symptoms, and until you have completed the mandatory self-isolation period. It is possible to be tested for COVID-19 if you display symptoms and this can be arranged by the College through your Head of Department or directly following the government guidance at. To assist with monitoring symptoms you will be required to complete a ‘COVID-19 Pre-return to work declaration’ prior to returning to work.

If you feel unwell whilst at work, please report this to your Head of Department straightaway and arrange to return home immediately, maintaining social distancing at all times. If you need to selfisolate, please follow the NHS guidance on self-isolating here, or arrange for a test as detailed above.

It is likely, particularly during winter, that many of us will display symptoms similar to COVID 19, as result of the usual seasonal colds, and it is important for the safety of all that staff stay home if experiencing any relevant symptoms, however mild.

Travelling to Work
If you have to come to the College, you should walk, cycle or drive on your own, if possible, to avoid contact with other commuters. If you have no option but to take public transport, please follow the Government’s guidelines here, which currently includes that you should wear a face cover and observe 2 meter distancing. We can provide facemasks on request, but we encourage you to make your own face covering and examples of these can be found here. You should continue to monitor the Government’s advice as it may change over time. 

Arrival and Departure Times
To aid social distancing, arrival and departure times should be staggered wherever possible - especially for larger groups such as the Grounds Team and the Housekeeping Department. Heads of Department’s should encourage flexible working patterns with their staff to enable them to avoid peak travel times, and to limit contact with other commuters and reduce travel times.

Meetings and Meeting Rooms
You should always use remote working tools like the telephone, conference calling, or Teams or Zoom where possible to avoid meeting in person (guidance on all of these options is available from IT).

If you do need to meet in person, only the absolutely necessary participants should attend, 2m separation must be maintained, and the room must be well ventilated by opening windows and doors. You should meet outside if possible: outdoor meeting areas are being arranged for this purpose. Meeting rooms will be set up with chairs and desks spaced out to ensure social distancing and each room will have a strict occupancy number, which will be displayed on the door. Floor tape/signage will be used to help people maintain social distancing. 

Reducing Movement
Movement around the college should be minimized wherever possible. You should therefore not make any non-essential trips around the College. If movement around College is essential, you should consider the best time to do so to avoid others and the safest route to help with social distancing. Routes that use the outdoors and avoid touching doors and surfaces is preferable to indoor routes.

One-Way Systems
Many of the corridors and routes around college are too narrow for social distancing to be maintained, and one-way systems are therefore being put in place to ensure that people do not pass each other. One-way systems will be marked out clearly and must be observed at all times. 

Hand Hygiene
Staff must wash their hands thoroughly on arrival at work, and on a regular basis throughout the day. Click here for the NHS guidance on washing your hands. It is particularly important to wash or sanitize them again following any journey in the college or after touching any surfaces.

Handwashing facilities are available in all WCs and kitchens. All kitchens have blue paper towel rolls in place, and cloth towels and drying up cloths have been removed. Paper towels are considered to be safer than electric hand dryers, so these have now been disabled temporarily, and paper towels provided instead. Hand washing reminder signs have been placed in all WC’s and on noticeboards throughout the College.

Hand sanitiser is located at the main entrances and in the following areas: the lodge; main hall entrance; servery entrance; café area; main kitchen, family courtyard areas, all offices; and all meeting and conference rooms. Hand sanitiser will be issued to all staff with limited access to the areas above, such as Housekeeping, Grounds, Nursery, and any other staff who feel it would be helpful to them. 

Cleaning
Cleaning products will be provided, including antibacterial sprays and wipes to wipe down equipment and surfaces, such as door handles, tools, workstations, key boards, telephones and other regularly touched surfaces. All staff must share the cleaning burden by wiping down surfaces in their own work places on a daily basis. Housekeeping staff will provide an enhanced general cleaning service in all communal areas and daily bin emptying.

Lifts
Only use lifts if absolutely necessary and only one person at a time. 

Additional safety measures

Protective Screens
Acrylic screens have been fitted to the servery, the till, the café and the lodge, and further screens will be fitted if and when deemed appropriate. You should let your Head of Department know if you feel that an additional screen is required anywhere in the College.    

Social Distancing Reminders
Social distancing signs will be displayed at all main entrances and on noticeboards, as well as in various areas such as meeting rooms, main hall, servery, café, library, etc.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Government guidance on the use of PPE can be found here and suggests that PPE is unnecessary in most office–based work environments provided that social distancing can be maintained. However, PPE is available in the College if required, and will be made available for all staff where risk assessments suggest it might be helpful. Staff can request PPE at any time through their Head of Department. The PPE currently available includes face masks, gloves, goggles and aprons. 

Offices
Each office will be risk assessed and consultations undertaken with each office occupant to ensure that 2m social distancing can be maintained. Workstations will be moved apart or placed back-toback if possible or screens fitted. Floor signs/tape will be put in place to mark 2m distance. A counter arrangement will be put in place for the Accounts Office using existing furniture. Flexible working times can be used to reduce the number of people in an office at any one time. No hotdesking is allowed.

Avoiding Contact with Surfaces
Staff should avoid touching shared surfaces wherever possible. All doors will therefore be left open where possible. This will also aid ventilation. You should avoid sharing pens or other work equipment and, if you do have to touch a shared surface (such as a light switch or photocopier button, you must sanitize your hands before and after. Cash should be avoided where possible and all payments made via a contactless card. 

Main Hall, Café and Common Room
Flooring markings and a one way system are in place to enable safe queuing in the servery and hall. Separate doors will be used for entrance and exit at all times. The hall and café are currently closed, but, when they reopen, tables and chairs will be arranged to ensure social distancing. Meanwhile, take away food is available from the servery and can be eaten in offices, work places or outside areas, ensuring that social distance is maintained at all times. When the Common Room reopens, all members will be asked to minimize use and to spread out to maintain social distance. A 2m space and a one-at-a-time system will be in place for the coffee machine. 

Lunch and Breaks
Lunch and breaks will need to be staggered and/or taken in small groups. Social distancing rules must be observed at all times, and you should use outside areas for breaks whenever possible. Your Head of Department will discuss and agree with you appropriate break areas and routines. 

Increased Ventilation
All doors, including the main entrance and exit doors, will be left open between 8am and 6pm, when possible and weather permitting, and provided that any increase in fire risk can be mitigated in other ways. Windows in main corridors and lodge/café areas will be opened between 8am and 6pm. Meeting and conference room windows will be opened on the tilt setting to allow ventilation at all times. Other windows controlled by individuals should be opened as much as possible but not to the detriment of the individuals comfort. 

Toilets
Due to the confined space only one person at a time will be allowed in any toilet, and signs placed on the front door will be used to let people know if someone is already in the toilet. Hand dryers have been turned off and paper towels installed. All bins have foot pedal operated lids

Minibus
The minibus service is currently suspended, but will be reinstated when safe to do so. It may then be necessary to operate with very limited numbers of passengers and face covers depending on the risk assessment at the time. 

Staff Locker Areas
Only one person at a time will be allowed in the Housekeeping Locker Room.

Contractors and Visitors
Only essential contractors and visitors are allowed on site. If meetings are required, use the guidance in the meeting section of this document. Contractors need to complete the new COVID-19 Contractor Operating Procedures – Minor Works paperwork at the Lodge before commencing work and must maintain social distancing at all times. Safety procedures must be sent to contractors prior to their visit and safety and hygiene arrangements must be explained to them on arrival. All visitors and Contractors must be booked in at the Lodge (disposable pen are available for use at the Lodge). Contractor’s time on site should be keep to an absolute minimum. 

Deliveries and Collections
Where possible, deliveries should be non-contact and social distancing maintained at all times. If unloading or moving stock requires more than one person and social distancing cannot be maintained, face covers must be worn. Hand sanitiser will be available for delivery drivers to use. 

Communication and training

Signage
Signage and posters are in place in all areas to remind everyone of the social distancing requirement and additional safety measures necessary in individual areas, such as lifts and toilets. 

Emergency Procedures
Social distancing should be maintained during any emergency or fire evacuation, unless it would unsafe to do so. First aiders have PPE available and will wear it whenever attending to a first aid matter. 

Work Procedures
Heads of Departments must complete a COVID 19 risk assessment for their department, ensure that they adapt their procedures to ensure safety, and conduct appropriate consultation and training with their staff. The H&S Manager and HR Department can advise and assist where necessary. 

Downloads
COVID-19 Staff Safety Plan PDFDownload
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