Resumption of Activities Procedure
On 01st May the Government published the “Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business” which sets out how the COVID-19 restrictions will be gradually lifted. Subsequently, on 09th May they published the “Return to Work Safely Protocol” which supports “employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace when the economy begins to slowly open up”.
Exposure to COVID-19 is a public health risk which affects all people. It is not an occupational health risk for the majority of UCC staff save where working with the live virus. However, managing the risk of spread in the workplace is important in relation to the health of staff and as part of general efforts to control the spread and protect the most vulnerable.
This procedure is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology:
- Plan for resuming activities
- Do implement the plan
- Check the results
- Act on any changes required
Note: For the remainder of this document, please take “Lead” to mean head/director of the school /research centre//functional area or their nominee for the purposes of this procedure as applicable. They will act as a point of contact for the functional areas of the building for the Campus Business Continuity Team and Buildings & Estates
Some essential activities have been ongoing since the campus closed. It is imperative that those carrying out these essential activities now address all aspects of the requirements laid out in this document. Appropriate documentation setting out compliance with the procedure will be required.
- The health and wellbeing of members of the UCC community remains paramount.
- Staff must continue to work remotely to the maximum extent possible as per the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business
- Approval to resume work in University buildings may be given where work cannot be completed remotely and public health measures permit
- Resumption of activities must be gradual, based on priority and in accordance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and the phases of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business.
- National guidelines must be adhered to within all buildings. Currently, guidelines have been issued by the Government (Return to Work Safely Protocol), HSE, and HPSC and NSAI. Other national guidelines may be made available in due course.
- Use of re-opened buildings must be restricted to essential work that cannot be conducted remotely. All other work including meetings should continue, where possible, to be conducted remotely via Teams etc.
- This procedure will be kept under review to ensure it is kept up to date with public health advice.
Planning and preparing is critical to ensure a safe and organised return to the workplace. Before any activity can resume, measures must be put in place to protect the health of staff and to minimise the risk of the spread of COVID-19. The following steps are required in planning, preparing and implementing the resumption of a University activity in the workplace:
The UMT member outlines their functional area’s priorities via the Campus Activities Information Sheet. The Campus Business Continuity Team, in consultation with the Research Business Continuity Team and the Academic Readiness Group, will submit a draft University roadmap to UMTO for approval.
The roadmap to campus reopening will be developed on the basis
- of the government roadmap,
- prioritisation of activities,
- operational feasibility in a UCC context (e.g. capacity of buildings to implement social distancing,
- availability of resources to enable resumption.
Once approved, the roadmap will become the planned schedule for the resumption of activities in the University.
Activity COVID -19 Risk Assessment
The Lead must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment identifying the control measures to be put in place to minimise the risk of people being exposed to COVID-19 by their activities. See the HSA Checklist on Control Measures for further information.
A guide for completing a COVID-19 risk assessment is in development.
A risk assessment template can be found here .
Unit Specific COVID-19 Operational/Response Plan
The University’s General COVID-19 Control Measures document (Appendix 1) details the general controls that must be adhered to for access to any University building.
The Unit COVID-19 Operational/Response Plan is a key document which details the specific measures that will be put in place for this Unit to meet the current public health guidelines, ensure compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol and to minimise the risk to staff and others. There may be a phased resumption of activities for this unit and the document should be updated to reflect this.
Buildings and Estates will work with the Leads in the building to develop a COVID-19 plan for any building which is being reopened. This building plan will cover items such as:
- access and egress
- location of hand sanitisers and signage in communal areas
- arrangements for deliveries
- maximum capacity for centrally booked space
If a building is already open, Buildings and Estates will review, with the Leads, the building plan for any new activities being resumed. If the building is occupied by different units, the Lead for each unit will meet regularly with the Leads of any other units on site or planning to resume activities on site to ensure a co-ordinated and safe use of the building(s).
The Lead of each Unit shall:
- act as a source of information on COVID-19 measures for staff
- enable a co-ordinated approach to the planning
- facilitate the National Protocol’s principle of consultation with staff
- consult and meet with other Leads in a multi-occupancy building
The Unit Operational-Response Plan Template will include:
Floor plans for the rooms to be occupied
Please map out (if applicable):
Buildings and Estates will provide the floor plans for mapping out
COVID-19 response to suspected case
Guide for Preparing for and Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19 Procedure is in development
Contact/group work log
How contacts will be recorded to facilitate contact tracing
Arrangements for movement of deliveries from drop off point to addressee
Records to be kept by the unit to facilitate contact tracing
Visitors/ third party contractors
Arrangements for access
Records to be kept by the unit to facilitate contact tracing
It is understood that the occupancy may change over time. The Lead should retain and update locally
From Buildings and Estates
Before finalising the Unit Operational/Response Plan, please check that the control measures in the HSA Checklist 2: Control Measures to Prevent Infection are addressed.
Update Unit’s Risk Assessments and Safety Statement for any impact of COVID-19
Planned COVID-19 control measures may impact on occupational health and safety risks and/or the safety statement. The Lead must review and update their occupational health and safety risk assessments and safety statements to take account of any changes to the work activity that may arise following implementation of the public health recommendations.
Information on safety statements can be found here. Guidance on updating risk assessments and safety statements for any impact of COVID-19 can be found here. (in development)
Review and Authorisation
The Head of College/Function in conjunction with the following or their nominee(s):
- Vice President for Research and Innovation and Corporate Secretary (research activities)
- Deputy President and Registrar and Corporate Secretary (academic activities)
- Corporate Secretary and Director of Human Resources/ Bursar (all other activities)
reviews the Unit COVID-19 Operational/Response plan and the COVID-19 risk assessment(s) to ensure they are satisfied with the following:
- resumption of activities is in keeping with the overall University roadmap
- the activity cannot be conducted remotely
- public health guidelines will be complied with
- adequate infection control and social distancing will be implemented.
Activities approved for resumption will be notified to UMTO.
Implement the Control Measures
Prior to any staff accessing the building, the control measures such as sanitising stations, signage, etc. identified in the risk assessment(s) and Unit Operational/Response plan must have been implemented.
As specified in the Return to Work Safely Protocol, staff must complete a pre-return to workplace form at least three days prior to their return work to seek confirmation that they, to the best of their knowledge:
- have no symptoms of COVID-19 and also confirm that the staff member is
- are not self-isolating
- are not awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
The UMT member reviews the building occupancy plan and approves resumption of the activity and provides letters of authorisation for staff members who will be accessing the building.
Prior to staff resuming an activity in a University building or when they arrive on the first day the following should occur:
- Staff should complete the University’s induction training
- The measures contained in the University’s General COVID-19 Control Measures and the unit’s COVID-19 Operational/Response Plan (Unit Operational-Response Plan Template) should be directly communicated to staff.
- Staff are to be made aware that they must have a copy of the letter of authorisation with them at all times.
- It must be clearly communicated to all staff entering campus that they need to stay at home if demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19. For the complete list of symptoms, please refer to the HSE Website.
- Individual staff members may have personal concerns in relation to entering buildings at this time. They should be advised that, in the first instance, staff should discuss concerns with their line manager or Human Resources.
The Lead must keep a record of the people, the rooms they are in and at what times. This will be very important if needed for contact tracing.
The ongoing effectiveness of the controls put in place, as per the Unit Operational/Response Plan, should be reviewed on a regular basis. The CBCT may request an update on the implementation of the Unit Operational/Response Plan.
Changes to the Unit Operational/Response Plan
The Unit’s COVID-19 Operational/Response Plan is a living document and will be subject to change over time due to possible changes in public health guidelines, increased activity, lessons learned. Any significant changes to the Unit Operational/Response Plan should be submitted to the UMT member for review.