Conduct of face-to-face meetings during COVID-19
Face-to-face meetings should still be avoided where possible. IF it is determined that face-to-face meetings are needed, the following Hierarchy of Control – set by the university itself – should be followed.
Hierarchy of Control
The basis of all working plans will be to reduce COVID-19 transmission between individuals by applying the requirements and guidance set out by the UK Government. The following hierarchy of control must be applied:
- 1. Individuals who can reasonably work from home should do so. This may include putting in place reasonable adjustments for disabled staff.
- 2. Individuals must not work on-site if they, or anyone else in their household, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- 3. Individuals must not work on-site if they are self-isolating as outlined in the University’s BCP departmental planning guidance.
- 4. Individuals must not work on-site if a risk assessment, including the outcome of discussions following an individual vulnerability assessment, identifies that an individual is at an increased risk that cannot be appropriately mitigated by other means.
- 5. Social distancing guidelines must be followed, including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others. Specifically:
i. Ensure the number of people on-site at any one time enables an effective implementation of control measures.
ii. Individuals must be regularly reminded to maintain good personal hygiene e.g. washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser often, for at least 20 seconds.
iii. Cleaning regimes must be enhanced to ensure contact points that are touched regularly are periodically cleaned and procedures are in place to reasonably clean down areas or surfaces if an individual who has been in work reports symptoms.
iv. Work activities should be planned to reduce mixing of people to make sure that, as far as possible, an individual only meets a limited number of other people whilst in the workplace, to reduce the risk of cross-infection. This is where running face to face meetings are currently consider a high risk activity. Meeting rooms at Gibson and Eagle house are not available until further notice.
v. The University’s policy on face coverings must be adopted.
vi. Where a 2 metre distance is not possible or is not viable3, the distance can be reduced to a minimum of 1 metre subject to risk assessment and the adoption of appropriate mitigations. The reasons for reducing the distance below 2 metres (with a minimum of 1 metre) should be documented, along with appropriate mitigations4. Such mitigations may include:
a. Modifying the activity to maintain as much distance as possible.
b. Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
c. Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
d. Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
e. The wearing of face coverings.
f. Reducing the number of people that each person has contact with by using “fixed teams or partnering” (so each person works with only a few others). The use of paired working may in specific circumstances, such as in laboratory settings, remove the requirement for a minimum distance of 1 metre subject to risk assessment, the adoption of other appropriate mitigations as set out in this section vi, and both individuals in the ‘pair’ being in agreement to work at less than 1 metre distancing.
g. Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning in that localised area.
h. Ensuring adequate ventilation of spaces.
i. The availability of symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for staff and students working onsite, with staff and students encouraged strongly to participate in regular asymptomatic testing.
vii. If, after the above measures have been fully assessed, there is still considered to be a significant risk, then the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be adopted.
viii. Specific guidance, including on social distancing, for non-laboratory teaching space is available in Section 3 and Section 4. Specific guidance on laboratory teaching is available on the RTOSW SharePoint site.
ix. Local contingency plans for use in the event of COVID-19 cases must be in place, in line with the University’s guidance and business continuity planning protocols.
x. Please note that under the NHS Test and Trace system, a ‘contact’ is ‘a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes over a day’; such contacts are required to self-isolate for 10 days. In considering a specific potential need for students and/or staff to undertake activities at a distance of less than 2 metres from each other, departments should weigh up the risks to those individuals and recognise that more people will need to self-isolate in the event of a positive test result than if 2 metres distance is maintained.
Further details can be found at RTOSW policy v18. https://unioxfordnexus.sharepoint.com/sites/rtosw and embedded here Returning to the workplace | University of Oxford .