1. Directions and Guidance for All On-Campus Research
- Individuals who can effectively conduct their work remotely should continue to work remotely so as not to place themselves or others at unnecessary risk.
- Individuals who have been instructed to return to on-site work and wish to request a disability accommodation (e.g., for disabilities that place individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19) should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The University will provide guidance separately on requests for workplace flexibility for other situations, such as individuals who are at higher risk due to age or other factors, as set forth under CDC guidelines, or individuals who live with those who are high-risk.
- All research faculty, employees and trainees must conduct a daily review of COVID-19 symptoms before returning to work. At this time, those symptoms include:
- New muscle aches not related to another medical condition or another specific activity (e.g. due to physical exercise)?
- Feeling like you may have a temperature of greater than 100.0°F?
- Sore throat not related to another medical condition (e.g. allergies)?
- New or worsening cough that is not related to another medical condition?
- Shortness of breath that is not attributable to another medical condition?
- Recent (<5 days) loss of smell and taste?
- New onset of vomiting or diarrhea not related to another medical condition?
- Repeated shaking chills not related to another medical condition?
- Anyone who is experiencing any of the above symptom(s) must not come to campus.
- Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should contact their health care provider and act upon their instructions. UNC employees may also contact the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic (919–966–9119), and UNC students and post docs may contact UNC Campus Health (919–966–2281).
- Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, who has been referred for testing or who is awaiting test results, may not come to work on campus for any reason until approved to do so by Employee Occupational Health or Campus Health.
Personal Safety Practices in the Workplace
Community Protective Equipment (CPE)
While in a University or UNC Health facility, all individuals must wear a University-approved face mask unless in a private and closed space (such as private office with the door closed). It is required to wear eye protection (in addition to a face mask) for all patient or participant encounters. It is recommended to wear eye protection in addition to a face mask in all small indoor areas with others (e.g. shared office, workroom, conference room). Acceptable face mask and eye protection options will be available at the UNC Environment Health & Safety website.
Face Masks: The University will provide disposable face masks to research employees and trainees.
- These masks will be distributed to ‘distribution coordinators’ for each school, department, and/or center and these individuals are responsible for distribution to research personnel. Further details about mask distribution will be forthcoming.
- Each person working on campus will be provided one disposable face mask for use every two shifts or every two days of work. If an individual’s work duties require more frequent disposal and replacement of masks, those needs will be accommodated.
- Individuals are not required to wear a face mask when working alone in a confined office space.
- These face masks may be re-used if it is not damaged, deformed, soiled, or contaminated. They should be placed inside a small clean paper bag marked with the user’s name and stored away upon removal. To avoid bacterial growth, bags holding masks should not be tightly closed.
- These masks are not substitutes for N95 or other respirators. Lab workers enrolled in the Respiratory Protection program who are required to use N95 respirators for their duties must wear them for appropriate protection.
- Disposable face masks are not meant to be laundered. Persons using such masks must not touch their face after removing the mask and must wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water after removing the mask.
- Wear a mask on campus at all times. Please utilize a personal mask when coming and going and utilize a work mask when arriving to the research facility. Make sure to follow the steps in this video to ensure you wear your mask correctly. Pay attention to guidance on how long each mask should last and how to store it properly between wearings.
- UNC’s Department of Environment, Health and Safety will provide instructions on how to properly care for and store masks.
Eye protection will reduce exposure to unknown COVID+ cases. Eye protection must be used in addition to a face mask for all participant/patient encounters. Eye protection in addition to a face mask is recommended in all small indoor spaces with others present (e.g. shared offices, workrooms, conference rooms). If you are exposed to people who subsequently become COVID+ (generally, displaying symptoms or testing positive within 3 days of the encounter), you will be forced to quarantine if you are not wearing eye protection in addition to a face mask.
- Eye protection includes either a face shield, a face mask with attached face shield, or safety goggles or glasses that offer wrap around protection to the side of the eyes.
- Eye protection does not include standard prescription glasses (even with side shields) or contact lenses.
- Eye protection should be disinfected and reused:
- Wipe eye protection with an EPA registered hospital disinfectant and let dry
- Rinse with water or alcohol if residue remains
- Replace if broken or no longer able to be cleaned.
According to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Frequent hand washing is considered the best practice for common everyday tasks. Employees who will be interacting with the public or operating in a public setting where materials will be frequently exchanged are advised to wear disposable gloves. The University will provide gloves for these individuals. Instructions for how to remove and dispose of gloves properly will be available at the UNC Environment Health & Safety.
- When on campus, all individuals must maintain appropriate physical distancing – a minimum of 6 feet distance (or 200 square feet per person) – from others at all times while wearing a face mask.
- Assembling or convening in groups of greater than 10 people poses a significant risk of viral transmission and is not permitted.
- Individuals should avoid holding open exterior doors for others, as doing so would likely compromise the required physical distancing.
Common Areas and Meeting Rooms
- Common areas such as break rooms, offices, restrooms, elevators, and conference rooms should be used only while adhering to physical distancing guidance.
- Departments should remove or rearrange chairs and tables or add visual cue marks in meeting rooms to support physical distancing practices between attendees.
- All persons should wear a face mask while in common rooms (even if others are not present) to provide protection in the event other people walk in. If you anticipate close encounters with others, it is also recommended to wear eye protection.
- Room occupancy limits must be defined and clearly stated through appropriate signage for each laboratory. Personnel should confirm that the occupancy limit has not been reached before entering a lab or office.
- Where possible, meetings should be convened and conducted virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, physical distancing requirements apply and a minimum of 200 square feet per person must be available at all times.
- Physical distancing of 6 feet should be observed at all times, including when eating or talking to someone in the workplace.
- Individuals are encouraged to eat meals outside, if possible.
- Meals should not be eaten in laboratory areas. They should be eaten alone or properly distanced from other individuals.
- If common areas such as break rooms and conference areas, etc. are used for meals, the person using them must wipe down surfaces using a 70% ethanol or equivalent solution.
- Use of elevators is subject to the required physical distancing guidance.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizers upon departing an elevator.
- Use the stairs whenever possible and do not congregate in entrances, stairwells and elevator lobbies.
Hygiene and Cleaning
- Although already a best practice for all researchers and trainees, during the pandemic it is imperative that hand washing become more frequent and more thorough. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds.
- Hands should be washed before interacting with a research participant and immediately after the session is over.
- Please view the CDC’s “Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way.”
- Also, please view the CDC video on hand washing.
- Provide guests the opportunity to wash hands if they are visiting you in your facility.
- If hand washing is not an available option, use hand sanitizer to disinfect hands.
- All individuals should thoroughly wash their hands or use provided hand sanitizer:
- At least hourly
- Before entering or exiting buildings, laboratories or offices if they have been in a public space or near others, and
- Before and after handling their facemask
- Hand sanitizer will be made available throughout University facilities.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
- Research work may involve the frequent use of shared equipment. The University is increasing the cleaning frequency of common/public spaces; however, it is critical that all faculty, staff, and students share the responsibility of cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in their workspaces (e.g., light switches, doorknobs, etc.).
- Cleaning products and hand sanitizers will be provided by the University for this purpose. Supplies will be distributed to ‘distribution coordinators’ for each school, department, and/or center and these individuals are responsible for distribution to research personnel.
- Occupants of all research facilities should clean/wipe all high-touch surfaces when beginning work, at the end of the day, and at least four additional times daily.
- Shared equipment should be cleaned and wiped after each use.
- Research facilities and buildings will be periodically monitored to ensure required safety measures are being practiced.
- If an employee is found to be out of compliance with the required practices, they will be counseled on the need for compliance with the required practices outlined in this guidance. Further instances of non-compliance may result in the employee being subject to disciplinary measures in accordance with applicable University policies.
- Compliance with required practices is a shared community responsibility.
- Individuals may report non-compliance by calling the Ethics Point Hotline at (866) 294–8688. Visit the Ethics Point website at https://research.unc.edu/compliance/ethics-point/ for additional information.
- Guests, visiting trainees, and other persons not affiliated with UNC should not visit University facilities or offices.
- Children are not permitted in University research facilities or offices during the COVID-19 event.
- Visitor restrictions do not apply to individuals participating in research studies being conducted in University facilities or to persons permitted on campus under the terms of a facility use agreement (FUA).
1. Some key documents from the UNC Health websites are replicated on CRSO website for those without UNCHCS intranet access https://www.med.unc.edu/crso/unc-healthcare-guidelines-for-covid-19/.