A new semester has begun, and research is kicking into high gear…but we are not operating under normal conditions. The pandemic has laid new challenges at our feet which has completely changed how we approach even the simplest of tasks. It is important, now more than ever, to band together as a lab community and apply HYPER ethics to tackle these obstacles.
As quarantine restrictions loosen in our state and we can begin returning to work, we have created a plan for returning to work that will help us to stay on track with our research goals while maintaining high safety standards to prevent the spread of disease. Follow these guidelines below to ensure success for yourself and HYPER.
Before entering a lab space, ask yourself these questions:
Am I feeling ill?
If you are feeling ill at all, even if you don’t have a fever or cough, do not come into the lab. Stay home, rest, and get well.
Do I need to go into the lab?
Currently the policy is, if you can work from home, you should. Only essential work is allowed on campus. Essential activity is a combination of work that can only be done on site and is deemed appropriate by the supervisor (more on that later).
Have I taken the required safety trainings?
There are three trainings that must be taken before you can set foot on campus. Here is the list:
They can all be taken online at https://wsu.skillport.com/ .
Have I reviewed the “WSU Staged return to on-site research, scholarship, and creative activities” document?
This document, which can be viewed here, lines out WSU policies and procedures during this pandemic. It details the current processes we must follow as well as what to expect as we progress through each stage of the pandemic.
Do I have pre-approval to return to work from my supervisor?
VCEA requires that you fill the Return to Work Request Form before returning to work. This is to verify that you have permission from your supervisor to return to work and that you have taken the proper safety training and read the COVID-19 required materials.
Once you have established that you are well, trained, have essential work, and have permission from your supervisor to return to campus, follow these steps before entering the lab space (note: all documents discussed in this post are uploaded to the HYPERawareness channel in Microsoft Teams):
Fill out an Essential Activity Log.
The essential activity log serves multiple purposes. It helps you organize and plan out your work to maximize efficiency and minimize your time in the lab. It also lets your supervisor know what you are working on and he/she can properly advise you if needed. Lastly, it serves as a record of what work was being performed if we are required to submit any reports to our administration. The Office of Research is currently performing spot checks of lab spaces to ensure COVID safety procedures are being followed throughout the university so proper documentation is essential.
Submit your Essential Activity Log for approval.
Once you have your EAL filled out you need to submit to the appropriate supervisor in charge of the research space for approval. Here is the list of supervisors for each space:
TFRB: Mark Parsons
ETRL: Carl Bunge
H2 Outdoor Site: Ian Richardson
Block out time on the schedule.
Once you have approval, there is a schedule spreadsheet for each space in Teams. Block out your time on the schedule so you can coordinate with other lab members if you need to use the same space.
Arrange to get access to the lab.
Since many of us are now working from home the lab spaces and campus buildings are often empty and/or locked. If you don’t currently have access to the buildings or lab spaces, coordinate with your team lead or the lab manager to get access.
Fill out the Daily Attestation form.
For everyday that you return to work you must submit a daily attestation form. This can be found on the dashboard of your myWSU page. Read the questions concerning your health and if you can answer ‘no’ to all of them, check the box that verifies you are well and have not been in contact with others who are experiencing symptoms and click ‘submit’.
Now you are ready to return to work…sort of. The next part it a little trickier to navigate but if you have taken your training you will be prepared.
Entering the lab space is now, for lack of a better phrase, a safety hazard both for you and others around you. We must be vigilant in following social distancing and disinfecting guidelines set by our state and the CDC.
We have outfitted each lab space with its own cleaning cart complete with gloves, masks, paper towels, alcohol disinfectant, clean(white) and dirty(red) buckets, and a cleaning checklist.
Utilize these tools and your training and complete the following steps from the moment you enter the lab until you leave:
- Upon entering the lab, find the cleaning cart and put on your PPE. Masks are now required, and gloves are highly recommended.
- Gather your tools and materials, keeping track of everything you touch. The red and white buckets are useful to help you distinguish between what tools/materials are clean or dirty.
- Complete your work as you laid out in your EAL while follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
- Once your work is done, put on a clean pair of gloves, grab the paper towels and disinfectant, and begin sanitizing your tools and workspace. Utilize the cleaning checklist for guidance. (We use alcohol as a disinfectant which needs to be left on a surface for at least 30 seconds to kill germs and bacteria).
- Make sure you clean every doorknob, light switch, drawer handle etc. Be thorough.
- Fill out the cleaning checklist, sign, date, and turn in.
- Exit the lab, PPE still on, walk out of the building and dispose of your PPE after you exit the facility.
While there are a lot of rules and guidelines to follow this will all be for the best in the long run. We will keep ourselves safe and prevent the spread of disease to others. This also provides us with the opportunity to be an example to our peers and positively represent our community, our university, and our state.
Stay safe. Stay healthy.