COVID-19 Workspace Safety Plan
This plan requires the review of the operational activities in your workspace to ensure effective controls are in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Management and supervisory staff are responsible for developing and updating this document to meet current government mandated requirements: https://covid19.ubc.ca/
Department/Faculty: Microbiology and Immunology / Sciences
Facility Location: Biosciences
Proposed Re-opening Date: August 15, 2020
Workspace Location: Department space
Introduction to Your Operation
Scope and Rationale for Opening
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology offers BSc majors and honours programs in Microbiology and Immunology, Biotechnology, and related combined programs. Core to these programs is the development of laboratory skills. These skills are required for students to fully participate in the co-op program and continue on to graduate programs. We have analysed our laboratory course offerings to determine which learning objectives could be delivered online, deferred, or delivered in-person in an on-campus laboratory setting. We will be opening undergraduate teaching labs to serve students as required to achieve learning objectives without delaying graduation. The proposed re-occupancy dates for the teaching labs are August 1st for faculty and staff and September 14th for students. For the fall term, the plan is to hold part of MICB 322 (6 weeks) in-person.
The plan was developed by lab course instructors and the department facility manager. The plan is approved by the Department Head, Michael Murphy.
Undergraduate lab courses will operate at 1/3 normal occupancy to meet physical distancing measures. The lab will have additional cleaning measures, and the flow of students through the lab will be regulated to minimize contact. Students will be in the same lab cohort throughout the course. The number of sections supervised by an instructor and TA will be limited to reduce contacts. The undergraduate student support prep spaces are sufficiently spacious to accommodate technical support staff while maintaining physical distancing.
Section #1 – Regulatory Context
Government of Canada: “Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers (COVID-19): List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19”
Provincial and Sector-Specific Guidance:
BC’s Restart Plan: “Next Steps to move BC through the pandemic”
Worksafe BC Guidance:
Section #2 - Risk Assessment
As an employer, UBC has been working diligently to follow the guidance of federal and provincial authorities in implementing risk mitigation measures to keep the risk of exposure as low as reasonably achievable. This is most evident in the essential service areas that have remained open on campus to support the institution through these unprecedented times. These areas have been very active with respect to identifying and mitigating risks, and further re-evaluating the controls in place using the following risk assessment process.
Prior to opening or increasing staff levels:
Where your organization belongs to a sector that is permitted to open, but specific guidance as to activities under that sector are lacking, you can use the following risk assessment approach to determine activity level risk by identifying both your organization’s or activity’s contact intensity and contact number, as defined below:
What is the contact intensity in your setting pre-mitigation – the type of contact (close/distant) and duration of contact (brief/prolonged)?
What is the number of contacts in your setting – the number of people present in the setting at the same time? As a result of the mass gatherings order, over 50 will fall into the high risk.
One or more steps under the following controls can be taken to further reduce the risk, including:
Physical distancing measures – measures to reduce the density of people
Engineering controls – physical barriers (like Plexiglas or stanchions to delineate space) or
Administrative controls – clear rules and guidelines
Personal protective equipment – like the use of respiratory protection
Contact Density (proposed COVID-19 Operations)
Describe the type of contact (close/distant) and duration of the contact (brief/prolonged) under COVID operations - where do people congregate; what job tasks require close proximity; what surfaces are touched often; what tools, machinery, and equipment do people come into contact with during work
Student laboratory courses:
Each student is assigned a work space, physically distanced (2 m) from all other students. Students will receive feedback on their lab technique from physically distanced instructors. Flow of students through the lab will be limited to their immediate bench area and transient movement will be regulated by request by the teaching assistant and instructor. An example is to use shared equipment or for a washroom break. Example movement flow through a student lab is in attached key plans.
Technical support staff:
Technical teaching support staff prepare materials and clean up after lab sessions. A maximum of five support staff will work per day. Student laboratory preparation and cleanup will be performed before and after student lab sessions. The staff will not be in direct contact with students. A sign at the entrance of each preparation laboratory space will be indicate the maximum occupancy (1 to 3 people) to maintain physical distancing. The staff will be distributed throughout these spaces to maintain physical distancing.
Contact Number (proposed COVID-19 Operations)
Describe the number of contacts in your proposed COVID-19 operational setting (# of people present in setting at same time)
Student laboratory courses:
Each lab session is held over four hours (approximately 1 – 5 PM). Each room will have a cohort of 8 students, a teaching assistant and an instructor (10 people total) per room. Each instructor will supervise up to two lab sessions per day for a total of 16 students and two teaching assistants. In one week, each instructor will have supervised four lab sessions for a total of 32 students and up to four teaching assistants.
Technical support staff:
A total of 5 teaching support staff will service the lab spaces outside scheduled lab course time. Three support staff will be scheduled per day to clean and service student labs to minimize contacts.
Detail how you have met the MANDATORY requirement to involve frontline workers, Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees, and Supervisors in identifying risks and protocols as part of this plan
The plan was developed by Department of Microbiology and Immunology lab course instructors and the department facility manager. Feedback was sought by email from the teaching support staff and the Heads of the four other Departments occupying the building. Teaching assistants will be provided with the plan along with the job description before being appointed. When possible faculty and staff can choose alternative remote work assignments for the fall term. The plan will be sent to the Faculty of Science JOHSC for review within 30 days of submission.
Detail how all Supervisors have been notified on appropriate Workplace Health measures and support available and how they will communicate these to employees
Instructors and staff receive email invitations to well-being sessions organized by the department. Weekly course coordination meetings will be held to check in with the full instructional team. Teaching assistants are supported by the Graduate Coordinator. Support staff will meet weekly with the department facility manager to discuss safety concerns.
Describe how you will publish your plan ONLINE and post in HARD COPY at your workplace for employees and for others that may need to attend site
A hard copy of the laboratory course safety plan will be posted in the lab and emailed to all instructors and teaching assistants. It will be available to students through course Canvas sites and reviewed with the students prior to as well as during the first lab session. A copy will be available on the department website.
Section #3 – Hazard Elimination or Physical Distancing
Coronavirus is transmitted through contaminated droplets that are spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. UBC’s goal is to minimize COVID-19 transmission by following the safety hierarchy of controls in eliminating this risk, as below.
The following general practices shall be applied for all UBC buildings and workspaces:
Where possible, workers are instructed to work from home.
Anybody who has travelled internationally, been in contact with a clinically confirmed case of COVID-19 or is experiencing “flu like” symptoms must stay at home.
All staff are aware that they must maintain a physical distance of at least 2 meters from each other at all times
Do not touch your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands
When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow, and then wash your hands
All staff are aware of proper handwashing and sanitizing procedures for their workspace
Supervisors and managers must ensure large events/gatherings (> 50 people in a single space) are avoided
Management must ensure that all workers have access to dedicated onsite supervision at all times.
All staff wearing non-medical masks are aware of the risks and limitations of the face covering they have chosen to wear or have been provided to protect against the transmission of COVID- 19. See SRS website for further information.