Overview: Health and safety for staff during COVID-19
The Safety Office will operate in accordance with its own business continuity plans. This means we will try to maintain our normal services. However, as we are currently remote working, these will be prioritised.
If staff availability significantly drops during the remote working phase, our focus will be on the following:
- disposal of hazardous waste, with specific priority given to ionising radiation and biological/clinical waste over other types of hazardous waste
- liaison with emergency services, enforcement and government agencies
For non-emergency enquiries please continue to use your local safety officers as far as possible.
Otherwise, please email us at email@example.com or, if necessary, call us on 01865 (2)70811.
As the office is currently working remotely, calls to the above number may go to an answerphone or direct to a member of staff. All enquiries will be dealt with as quickly as possible depending on the level of urgency.
Working with reduced staff capacity:
- Ensure there are sufficient and appropriately trained staff to manage foreseeable emergency situations such as: fire evacuation, first aid situations and other foreseeable emergencies that may arise
- Assess lone working arrangements and implications, in particular be aware of any high risk activities where lone working is not permitted
- Consider welfare of those staff who are present (breaks, stress, support) and the activities they are expected to undertake
Lone working policy
If you most work in the office because operational reasons, please follow the Department’s lone working policies (see box on right).
Coronavirus: working from home guide for University staff
Last updated: Thursday 19 March 2020
This guide has been put together by Personnel Services and IT Services to provide information and guidance for those needing to work remotely due to Coronavirus. If you have any further questions about home-working after reading this information, please contact your local IT or HR contact in the first instance.
HR advice for remote working
What do I need to consider about working remotely?
Talk to your line manager or supervisor if you have one, to discuss whether it is operationally possible for you to do all or part of your work remotely, and to obtain their agreement for working remotely.
Make sure that your manager (or someone in your departmental administration) has your up-to-date contact details, and agree how you will keep in touch on a regular basis.
If your situation changes (e.g. you become unwell or have to take on caring responsibilities) let your manager (or someone in your departmental administration) know.
Health and Safety advice: How should I set up my workstation at home?
Setting up your workspace at home is the same as for your office. Your workspace should include:
- A table / desk
- Surface / laptop or PC
- Work station peripherals
Working at home may provide some challenges, but by following some basic principles and with some simple adjustments, you should be able to obtain a reasonable working position. Specifically; · Try to set up your workstation as close as possible to sitting in a comfortable, supported position with the monitor height close to your eye line.
- If you are using a laptop try to use a separate keyboard and mouse, and use some form of stand/box to get the monitor height close to your eye line.
- Adjust settings to ensure screens are easy to read and all equipment works correctly.
- Keep the mouse, or similar items, close to the keyboard to avoid overstretching.
- Consider your surrounding environment. For example, is the lighting sufficient, have you got sufficient space, are there any trailing leads you could trip over?
- Check your electrical equipment is safe to use - Avoid overloading sockets or extension leads.
Importantly, take regular breaks from working at the computer. In particular:
- Vary your activities and day, to enable breaks away from the screen.
- Stretch or change position frequently.
- Take a break before you get tired or uncomfortable. Short frequent breaks are far better than longer ones e.g. 2-3 minutes every 20 minutes is better than 10 minutes every 2 hours.
There is no requirement for people to conduct detailed display screen equipment assessments, including self-assessments, whilst working at home during this pandemic. However, these are unprecedented times and the University advice will change over the coming weeks, as we move from the immediate response into a more permanent position.
It is likely that simple modifications, such as the use of separate keyboards or improvised laptop stands, would accommodate most people’s needs. However, you can discuss possible arrangements for loaning equipment from your office, if feasible, as this may help those with specific needs or concerns.
- If you do experience discomfort with the use of your home workstation, report this immediately to your supervisor or line manager. You may be asked to complete an online self-assessment at this stage to help identify reasonable adjustments.
- Your department’s display screen assessor ( Jessy Morton) could review your online assessment remotely to help with any decision. If that is not possible or it does not resolve the problem, then your department should contact the University Safety Office for further advice.
- If you have a specialist item of equipment that you use in your office, but do not have at your home, discuss this with your supervisor or line manager. Your department should be able to loan you the equipment during this period, but please ensure it is kept in reasonable working order and report problems immediately.
- Further advice on the general principles for setting up your workstation at home are available on the University Safety Office website.
What will happen if I need to self-isolate?
- If you have to self-isolate, further to PHE or medical advice (see the University’s advice page), you would be expected to carry on working from home if possible, so long as your symptoms are mild enough that you would ordinarily continue to go to work.
- If you have to self-isolate but are unable to work from home for operational reasons, you will continue to be paid at the normal rate of pay for that period.
- If you are too unwell to work during the period of self-isolation you should contact your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) to let them know.
- You will not be required to use annual leave to cover a period of self-isolation, and this will not count towards your sickness record. If you are unwell with Coronavirus beyond the self-isolation required by PHE advice, this will not be counted towards your sickness absence record.
What if my child, family member whom I live with or housemate is required to self-isolate?
You only need to self-isolate if you develop symptoms as per PHE advice (see the University’s advice page for further information). If your child, family member whom you live with or housemate is advised to self-isolate, they (and you) should take the precautions set out on the PHE’s advice page, but you should continue to work from home if you can.
What happens if I am unwell past the normal period of paid sickness?
If you are unwell with Coronavirus this will not count towards your sickness record. The University’s sick pay scheme will apply but this already gives departments discretion to extend the period of paid sick leave if appropriate.
I am a casual worker; am I entitled to sick pay?
If you are a casual worker you will receive any statutory sick pay (“SSP”) to which you may be entitled. However, you have no entitlement under any University sick pay scheme.
What do I do if I have to undertake caring responsibilities now that schools and nurseries are closed?
Continue working from home if possible, but it is accepted that you may need to be flexible and may not be able to do so if, for example, you are not able to make alternative care arrangements.
- If working at home or making alternative care arrangements is not possible you will continue to be paid as normal.
- Keep in regular touch with your line manager or supervisor (if you have one) so that they know when you are working.
- I’m in a high risk group (long-term underlying health condition, immuno-compromised), or my partner/immediate family member is in a high-risk group and I’m worried; what should I do?
- Public Health England has advised that those particularly vulnerable include:
- Those aged 70 and over · Those under 70 with an underlying medical condition listed here (i.e anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
- Those who are pregnant
Public Health England advise those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures (see ‘What is social distancing?’ on the University’s advice page).
We understand you may be concerned if you feel you are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others (for example if you have a specific health condition are in the categories listed above, or have vulnerable family members). If you are uncertain, members of staff should speak to their medical provider in the first instance, and students should speak to their college welfare lead.
The University will support you as much as possible. Vulnerable staff should work from home. If you are not able to carry out your role remotely, you will be granted special paid leave. This guidance also applies to people who live with and / or care for elderly people and people with vulnerable health conditions.
I use specialist ‘adaptive equipment’ to help me to work (keyboard, mouse, chair etc.); can I take it home?
Yes, if it is portable, with the agreement of your line manager or supervisor (if you have one); if not make sure that someone in your departmental administration knows what you have taken home (so that the department can keep track of equipment).
I’ve booked annual leave but I’ve had to cancel my holiday plans. Can I cancel my leave?
We expect everyone to take their leave as planned unless there are very strong operational reasons why not, whether or not you are able to go away on holiday. It is important for your health that you take your full amount of leave, and it may not be possible for you to reschedule leave to later in the year.
How many days’ leave can I carry over to the next leave year?
In exceptional circumstances you can carry over no more than 5 days’ leave, with the agreement of your line manager or supervisor if you have one.
I have seen an increase in the number of suspicious looking emails in my inbox. What should I do?
The Information Security team have observed an increase in malicious emails exploiting the Coronavirus situation. It is best that you familiarise yourself with normal services available to you as a member of the University. If you have received something for the first time, then exercise caution. Check the email sender or the address bar of webpages and, if you are uncertain, then don’t engage with it. Send your suspect email, complete with message headers, on a new message to firstname.lastname@example.org for analysis and advice. Further detailed advice and guidance on how to keep yourself safe online is available on the Information Security webpages.
Should I report accidents and incidents whilst working at home?
If you have an accident or incident that you feel is related to your work at home, please notify your supervisor immediately. Please also notify the University Safety Office at email@example.com.
Where can I find more information?
If you have any more questions, you should contact your line manager in the first instance. Wider advice about coronavirus is available on the University website: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/Coronavirus-advice
Oxfordshire Mind guidance on managing wellbeing and mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak: https://www.oxfordshiremind.org.uk/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/