H&S fears for prison educators (17 Nov 2020)

MP highlights health and safety fears for prison educators as prison Covid cases jump

17 November 2020

Grahame Morris MP has today raised concerns from prison educators over management ignoring national guidance on Covid health and safety, with the Labour MP for Easington accusing some prisons of watering down national guidelines to keep educators in classrooms.

The concerns were raised as the BBC reported there were more cases of Covid-19 in prisons last month than the previous seven combined.

The government created new guidance to protect the health and safety of offenders and staff during the Covid pandemic, which includes specific restrictions on in-person teaching during high Covid threat levels. Last week UCU wrote to all prison providers and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service after prison educators reported concerns. The letter includes a number of measures providers must take to protect the health and safety of staff.

Grahame Morris said: ‘In prisons, I’m told that some governors have tweaked their exceptional delivery models to permit classroom-based education, despite national guidance that says this must not happen while Covid threat levels remain high.’

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Staff in prisons are being failed by providers who have chosen to prioritise contractual provisions over staff safety. We are concerned that governors have changed national frameworks set out by government to protect offenders and staff during the pandemic, and ministers have not done enough to stop them. This is especially worrying as prisons have seen an unprecedented rise of Covid cases in the last month.’

‘Time and again, prison educators are ignored, forgotten by prison governors and providers – that is always wrong, but to continue to neglect their safety throughout a public health crisis is completely unacceptable.

‘UCU members are committed to playing their part in keeping staff and learners safe. However, their safety cannot be guaranteed if providers can loosen restrictions created to stop Covid spreading through prisons. Staff need to be reassured that any decision to return to in-person teaching will only be made once it is safe to do so.

‘Ministers and providers now need to stop acting as if it is ‘business as usual’ – and put safety first.’

UCU Response to Westminster Government University admissions review

13 November 2020

UCU welcomed an announcement from education secretary Gavin Williamson for a post-qualification university admissions system. UCU was responding to government proposals to review the current system in England after years of campaigning by the union.

UCU has been at the forefront of calls for admissions reform having proposed a post-qualification application system that is student centred. The union released a poll earlier in the year that showed school, college and university leaders want to reform university admissions. It also published a report detailing how the admissions system could be overhauled, and highlighted that the UK is the only country to use predicted grades for university admissions.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘It is good the Westminster government has belatedly listened to UCU and others in the sector after we have spent years campaigning for a post-qualification university admissions system. The evidence is overwhelming that the current system is fundamentally unfair and there is now a sector-wide consensus that things have to change.’

Union calls on Vice Chancellors to Move Learning Online

3 November 2020

The University and College Union (UCU) has written to vice-chancellors of universities in England* calling on them to move learning online now.

This follows updated guidance for England around the four week lockdown that said universities should ‘consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible’ and after repeated calls from UCU and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), for a move away from in-person teaching.

UCU has collated over 35,000 cases of Covid on campuses across the UK. It has also launched a legal challenge to the government’s decision to ignore advice from SAGE to move learning at universities online.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Following updated guidance from the Westminster government, we are calling on vice-chancellors in England to exercise their autonomy and move all non-essential activities online now. Universities must not risk the health and safety of staff and students by allowing non-essential in-person activities to continue.  Reducing the amount of in-person teaching and travel to and from campus will minimise the spread of Covid-19 and keep people as safe as possible.’

*Letter to VC’s in England

Dear Vice Chancellor,

Following the announcement of a four-week lockdown in England, and new government guidance stating that ‘universities and adult education settings should consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible’, I am writing to ask that you exercise your autonomy as Vice Chancellor to move all non-essential in-person teaching online now as some institutions are doing, such as Sheffield Hallam, Essex and King’s.

We are all invested in lowering the R rate as quickly as possible. This virus moves when people move, and the government’s own modelling showed that in-person teaching is a key risk area. Reducing the amount of in-person teaching and travel to and from campus will minimise the spread of Covid-19 and keep people as safe as possible.

Best wishes

Dr Jo Grady

General Secretary, University and College Union

It’s My Time: workload campaign launch -link to watch again (17 Sep 2020)

The It’s My Time webinar, which launched the UCU Eastern regional office workload campaign was very well attended. The webinar can be watched again at: https://youtu.be/cums6GghKxI

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary, Jane Thompson, from the UCU national bargaining team and Lydia Richards, UCU Eastern and Home Counties Regional Official, discussed how members can challenge excessive workloads.

CPD webinar: Working safely during the pandemic Wed 23 Sep

All members in our region are invited to participate in the interactive webinar entitled Working Safely During the Pandemic. The webinar has evolved from the previous iteration, which was called Taking Care of Yourself, and now addresses all the hot topics surrounding how we can work safely this autumn, and especially focuses on what your employer needs to do to protect you and your students.

Working Safely During the Pandemic will be delivered via zoom on Wednesday 23 September ina  morning and afternoon session. You will have received an email invitation on Wed 16 Sep. If you have not receieved this email -contact easternadmin@ucu.org.uk or gpickard@ucu.org.uk

The full aims of the interactive webinar are to:
1. understand why it’s important to unapologetically protect your health and wellbeing at this time
2. identify some of the challenges you face in working safely whether from home, back in the workplace or a blend of the two
3. Be clear about what support you can expect from your employer
4. Identify support available from UCU

How it will work
The taught session will last for about 50-60 minutes, after which a member of UCU staff, or a branch activist, will update you on the latest UCU campaigning work in this area and will lead a discussion on what this all means for you, which should take another 15 to 20 minutes. The consensus is that the these discussions take away the isolation of lone working and begin to establish norms that are acceptable to us. The total time commitment will be less than an hour and a half.
The session will be led by experienced UCU CPD tutors.

Institution reopening guidance from DfE (10 Sep 2020)

This is the updated DfE guidance for HEIs that was issued today, 10 Sep: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses

UCU have been notified that there will be updated guidance for FE colleges shortly. In the meantime the current FE guidance can be found here

 

It’s My Time: webinar on workloads and the new academic year

 
Dear colleague

The impact of Covid-19 on working practices and the shift to blended learning has meant additional workload pressures for UCU members. The need for an organised collective response in workplaces has never been greater. Coupled with this, the need for individual members to protect their own wellbeing, supported by their union and workplace agreements, is increasingly important.

UCU Eastern & Home Counties region is launching the ‘It’s My Time’ campaign at a virtual members’ meeting on Weds 16 Sept at 1pm. General secretary Jo Grady and Jane Thompson from the national bargaining team will join the regional office to talk about how members can challenge excessive workloads.

Supported by briefings and campaign materials for members alongside bargaining guidance for branches, the campaign is aimed at all members and branches across the region.

Please register for the event and submit any questions for the panel to discuss here.

Best wishes

Lydia Richards
UCU Eastern & Home Counties regional official

Latest Government Support Package fails to put students and staff at the centre of recovery plans, says UCU

27 June 2020

Commenting on the government’s university research support package, UCU said that while any new money was welcome, the government needed to do much more to safeguard the entire university sector, and protect students and staff.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘This latest announcement from the government fails to put students and staff at the centre of its recovery plans. While there is some new money in the form of a grant to research-intensive universities, the rest of the package consists of loans and repackaged existing spending commitments.

‘The proposals barely mention students other than to make clear that universities who focus most on teaching will receive little of the new money now available. The failure to properly support the sector means that casual staff and those from BAME backgrounds will suffer the most as universities lose academic capacity and seek to get rid of staff. This is an insult to staff who responded so impressively keeping institutions open and students learning.

‘We desperately need a package that prioritises the needs of students and staff across our diverse higher education sector and guarantees all universities’ survival. This is why we are calling on the government to properly underwrite the sector and fund the future. Universities are a crucial part of the economic and social fabric of the UK and they must all be given the support they need to ensure they can be central to our recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.’

More on UCU’s Fund The Future campaign can be found here.

poll of prospective students released earlier this month revealed that almost a quarter (23%) feared that the university they wanted to study at this year could go bust because of the Covid-19 crisis. Half (49%) feared that damage caused by funding cuts because of the pandemic would negatively impact on their education and over two-thirds (71%) backed a delay to the start of term.

UCU Launches Fund the Future Campaign to Secure Universities and Colleges

12 June 2020

UCU launches campaign with message to prime minister that universities and colleges desperately need a clear and coherent plan from government if the UK is to avoid losing educational capacity at a time when it will be needed most

In a letter to Boris Johnson to launch the union’s ‘Fund the Future’ campaign, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the government’s limited actions so far had failed to meet the challenges further and higher education face.

The union said the government needed to provide financial guarantees to stop thousands of teachers, researchers and professional support staff losing their jobs at a time when education would be needed to drive the recovery from the pandemic.

As well as writing to the Prime Minister, the union is urging its members and the public to use the new campaign website to contact their local MP to make the case for more funding and support. UCU has also launched a new campaign video today and the union’s general secretary Jo Grady is hosting a live Facebook Q&A event at 1pm.

A report for UCU by London Economics in April warned that universities faced a £2.5bn funding black hole due to lost income from student tuition fees and teaching grants. The report warned that, without government intervention, the country faced a total shortfall of £6bn from the reduced economic activity generated by universities with 60,000 jobs at risk.

A poll released last week showed that students shared the union’s concerns about what the impact of Covid-19 might mean for universities and education. Almost a quarter (23%) of the prospective students polled were worried their university might go bust as a result of the crisis and half (49%) feared their education would suffer as a result of cuts linked to Covid-19.

Further education colleges in England warned last month that over £2 billion of their income for the next academic year was uncertain, and they were worried they would not have the resources and capacity needed to support students.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Universities and colleges are a crucial part of the economic and social fabric of the UK and should be central to our recovery from the damage done by the Covid-19 crisis. The government’s limited actions so far have not come close to meeting the challenges further and higher education face.

‘Universities have already started cutting jobs and will keep trying to do so as the uncertainty persists, with huge repercussions for industrial relations and local economies that depend on higher education.

‘We now desperately need a clear and coherent plan from the government that guarantees funding and jobs to protect our academic capacity. The country cannot afford to push tens of thousands of teachers, researchers, and education professionals into unemployment at a time when we will need education to be a key driver of recovery.

‘Our “Fund the Future” campaign will demonstrate the importance of education and make the case for investment in our colleges and universities to politicians across the political divide. We have to ensure that education is given the support it needs to lead our recovery from this crisis.’

Covid-19 Hazards and Controls

Considerations for ongoing scrutiny and implementation of risk assessments in FE This document aims to list some of the potential hazards related to Covid-19 transmission in the workplace and some potential control measures that should be considered for further education colleges during any phased reopening of on-site work. Control measures should follow a hierarchy of control that first seeks to eliminate a hazard and where this is not possible, control the hazard to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. Who can be harmed and how A risk assessment should consider all those who could be affected including employees, contractors, and students, members of the public, and anyone who could be harmed by their business activities. When considering who should return to the workplace and when, certain groups of staff at greater risk will need specific considerations and specific control measures implemented. For instance, current data shows that there is disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on older people, pregnant women, people with underling health conditions, BAME people, and men. This includes a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and/or greater risk of severe illness or death. Other groups of staff to consider in the risk assessment include: women of childbearing age, temporary workers, migrant workers, transient workers, disabled people, young people, newly recruited and inexperienced workers, lone workers, home workers and contractors. Employers risk assessments, safe systems of work, information and guidance should be easy to follow. Employers should ensure workers understand what hazards and risks they face and the measures in place to control these risks, including any emergency procedures. Everyone should be clear on what they need to do and this will require adequate health and safety training that is relevant and effective. Appropriate levels of supervision should also be in place to ensure safe systems of work are implemented and effective. The table below lists the potential hazards and controls for further education. The list is not exhaustive and you will need to identify hazards and controls specific to your organisation and the people working there. 2 www.ucu.org.uk Hazards and hazardous activities Potential controls Transmission of Covid-19 via airborne particles, infected surfaces and waste Group teaching on site/faceto face Homeworking to continue Teaching and assessment delivered online Minimise on-site working requirements Ensure administrative tasks are undertaken from home should be (lesson planning, marking and assessment, meetings) Reduce need for face to face contact while Covid-19 remains widespread and uncontrolled in the community Implement new ways of working to reduce the number of activities and people needed to engage in on site work. E.g. alternative curriculum, teaching methods and assessments. Invest in IT and equipment to allow for effective remote working Reduce numbers of people onsite at any one time – staggered start times, staggered breaks etc Reconfigure office or classroom spaces to ensure social distancing of 2 metres minimum and ensure staff or students are sitting side to side, or back to back, avoiding face-to-face set ups. Use of screens or dividers to separate areas using a physical barrier. Increase ventilation to ensure airborne particles are dispersed. Consider use of air purifiers and other ventilation systems following expert advice where this is identified as a necessary control. Open windows to increase air flow in shared spaces. Ensure appropriate spaces are used for teaching that are well ventilated, avoiding enclosed spaces and recirculated air. 3 www.ucu.org.uk Reduce social mixing – identify safe routes through buildings, corridors and rooms and safe use of any shared facilities or communal areas. Rotas and cohorting of staff and students to reduce risk of virus transmission. Ensure social distancing of 2 metres minimum for all on site work. Change work systems to reduce contact with other people as much as possible Reduce usage of shared equipment – assign own equipment or restrict access Surgical masks – for areas where groups of more than 2 will gather Use of PPE – FFP3 /2 masks, gloves, aprons and coveralls, face masks (safe system of work where required to ensure safe usage and disposal) 1:1 meetings with staff or students Conduct meetings online or via teleconferencing. Consider alternatives and interim arrangements. Reduce number and frequency of 1:1 meetings. Ensure social distancing of 2 metres and avoid use of enclosed spaces with poor ventilation for meetings. On-site meetings Conduct meetings online or via teleconferencing. Review processes to reduce need for on site or face to face meetings. Ensure social distancing in place for any meetings. Reduced numbers attending meetings to low levels and avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation for meetings. 4 www.ucu.org.uk Communal and shared areas n break rooms n canteens n social spaces n toilets and other welfare facilities Close non-essential communal and shared areas. Reduce numbers of people who need to access communal or shared areas. Physical partitions, screens or dividers in shared areas to reduce social mixing across individuals or groups. Packed lunches provided or brought in to avoid or reduce any social mixing. Minimise social mixing – restrict access to communal areas to specific groups or cohorts of staff and students. Introduce rotas, staggered times for breaks, schedule work activities before or after lunch breaks to allow people to eat lunch from home where possible. One-in-one out system for small, enclosed spaces and spaces with poor ventilation eg toilets and welfare facilities Ensure there are sufficient toilets and welfare facilities for all those on site at any one time, taking into account safe systems of work. Activities and lessons scheduled to avoid crossing over lunch times so staff and students can eat at home before or after classes. Social distancing clearly communicated with appropriate levels of supervision, instruction and signage for all entry and exit points. Associated safe system of work. Ensure emergency arrangements (e.g. Fire and first aid) are in place for those on site and safe systems of work, emergency procedures and procedures for serious and imminent danger. Bottlenecks into buildings, corridors, stairwells, lifts, classrooms and offices Avoid routes that are likely to create bottlenecks or queues into buildings, classrooms. Identify different entry and exit point for different cohorts of staff and students. Identify one-way entry and exit points with staggered start and find times to avoid queuing. 5 www.ucu.org.uk Queuing arrangements in place for entry and exit points to buildings and rooms with appropriate supervision, signage, information and instruction to ensure compliance – safe system of work. Restrict numbers entering buildings, classrooms or offices at the same times (e.g. rotas, staggered start and finish times). Restrict access to areas where 2 metres distance will be difficult to implement or maintain. Restrict access to areas where people may gather or congregate. Transmission of Covid-19 via infected surfaces (desks, doors, equipment, fixtures and fittings, perishables) Cleaning regime and personal hygiene Homeworking to avoid contact with infected surfaces or objects. Reduce time spent on site. Reduce contact with infected surfaces. Reduce number of touchpoints by reorganising the workplace to ensure touch free movement or activities e.g. fixed opening of non-fire doors, fire doors held open using mag-locks or equivalent engineering control. Reduce usage of shared equipment. Restrict access to shared equipment e.g. printers. Avoid taking infected equipment or documentation home (e.g. initial studies find Covid-19 can last between 3 hours and 4 days on paper at room temperature). Implement alternative assessment methods e.g. online or telephone assessment, self-assessment documentation. Enhanced cleaning regime (cleaning after every group activity, class, lecture) with associated safe system of work. Implementation of regime closely monitored and documented with associated safe system of work. Deep cleaning before reopening of buildings and after any suspected case of Covid-19 following safe system of work. 6 www.ucu.org.uk Enhanced and more frequent cleaning of touchpoints in buildings, classrooms, corridors, stairwells, lifts etc. Clean equipment before and after usage and between users. Restrict access to areas that have not been cleaned or have no infection control measures in place. Follow safe system to decontaminate any items that may contain viable virus e.g. paper based assessments. Wash hands before and after using equipment, before and after entering rooms and before and after each activity. Use hand sanitiser that can kill virus (e.g. minimum 60% alcohol) when handwashing facilities. unavailable. Ensure adequate provision of hand sanitiser, soap, paper towels, and lidded, pedal push bins at key points across the workplace. Use of PPE – gloves, aprons, RPE, face masks. Infected waste Infected waste (tissues, paper towels) to be disposed of in lidded pedal push bins were possible. Hand dryers in bathrooms turned off and provision of lidded pedal operated bins in toilets. Arrangements in place for regular collection and disposal of hazardous waste with safe systems of work. Waste double bagged, labelled and disposed of as clinical waste. Safe procedure for storage, use and disposal of cleaning materials and PPE. Travel to work Homeworking to avoid travel to workplace. Covid-19 travel to work policy. Avoid all non-essential travel – consider remote options first. 7 www.ucu.org.uk Avoid use of public transport. Promote and support alternative travel arrangements. Travel to work in cars alone (unless travelling to work with other members of your household). Travel to work on bike. Walk to work. Increase car parking availability and bike storage facilities. Increase access to showers and changing facilities on site. Suggest safe systems for use of car or public transport and provide information on safe systems to decontaminate clothing either at work or at home. Covid-19 travel to work policy. If using public transport, use PPE, face masks, hand-gel, and follow safe systems including changing and cleaning contaminated clothing. On site staffing levels – absences due to COVID related illness, requirement to selfisolate, and caring responsibilities. Reduce social mixing and reduce unnecessary contact by cohorting of staff and students into fixed teams or partnering. This will also reduce impact of any confirmed or suspected cases and reduce number of those required to self-isolate for 14 days. Increase access to testing and encourage use of any track, trace and isolate technology to reduce impact of any outbreaks. Workforce plan to consider safe staffing levels during any phased return. Minimum staffing levels considered for key roles to ensure safe operation of the workplace (e.g. cleaners, fire wardens, security staff, and those implementing control measures. Procedure in place for staff to remove themselves from any serious and imminent danger from Covid-19. 8 www.ucu.org.uk Emergency procedures in place for phased return to onsite work with arrangements to mitigate any risks associated with absences of key duty holders or staff e.g. fire wardens and first aiders. Lone person working procedure for phased return and safe systems of work. Roles that may involve less than 2m social distancing e.g. First aider role, personal care duties, working with student with emotional and behavioural difficulties Reduce numbers on site. Reduce time spent on site. Reduce time spent together where social distancing cannot be maintained. Cohort staff and students into smaller groups. Safe systems of work in place for specific roles or activities. Use appropriate PPE – RPE, gloves, aprons or coveralls, face masks. Safety culture and behaviour of staff and students Take actions that will increase motivation to follow safe systems of work such as additional training, inductions, safety checks, supervision. Utilise a range of communication methods to suit different groups. Identify areas where additional training, information and instruction are required and consider use of signage throughout workplace to support implementation of various control measures. Undertake refresher training on work tasks and equipment, particularly where that work is safety critical. Publish risk assessments and safe systems of work and encourage feedback and review to ensure risks continue to be managed to their lowest possible level. Implement H&S training as identified in risk assessments and training for staff in various safe systems of work before any reopening. 9 www.ucu.org.uk Consider piloting smaller and lower risk areas first and make improvements to risk assessments and safe systems of work as needed. Failure of control measures Procedure for serious and imminent danger. Promote understanding of health and safety arrangements that are in place and awareness of reporting mechanisms to highlight any new hazards, failed controls or near misses. Increase supervision of areas and activities that are higher risk for Covid-19 transmission and regularly review the effectiveness of control measures. People at greater risk of viral transmission and poorer outcomes n Those in older age groups (60+) n Those with underlying health conditions n Those from BAME background n Men Home working. Encouraging staff to disclose any increased risk factors and reassurance that they will be given additional protections and considerations e.g. homeworking, lower risk groups phased back to the workplace before higher risk groups. Workforce planning to identify those staff and students at greater risk and for this data to inform return to work plans. Alternative duties to allow for home working. Temporary redeployment to allow work from home Lower risk on-site activities with safe systems of work. Increased access to testing. Individual risk assessments where required. Priority access to PPE (FFP3/2 respirators, gloves, aprons. PPE that is fit tested and staff have training in storage, cleaning, use and disposal. Safe system of work for PPE. Staff at greater risk of ill health due to impact of COVID-19 n Disabled staff (impact on reasonable adjustments, safe working Home-working and flexible working arrangements in place. Review of reasonable adjustments and additional support. 10 www.ucu.org.uk environments, access to support and conditions that increase ill-health) n Parents and carers – predominantly women (more likely to have additional caring responsibilities) less able to attend the workplace n Those with members of their household who are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 or suffering poorer outcomes. Encourage staff to disclose any issues and offer reassurance that support can be given to prevent or minimise impact on health and safety. Workforce planning to ensure specific groups and their additional risks inform return to work plans. Induction to workplace and safe systems of work. Alternative roles, duties, tasks considered where necessary. Individual risk assessments where required. Flexible or alternative working arrangements. Access to PPE for on-site work. Health surveillance – workers becoming ill at their place of work Health surveillance arrangements in place to ensure early signs of illness can be detected; e.g. temperature checks before entry to workplace or during the working day. Daily self-reporting or confirmation of health checks completed i.e. temperature, loss of smell/taste, new persistent cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours). Health surveillance as an early warning system for any outbreaks within the workplace. Health surveillance to ensure suitable control measures are in place to prevent and reduce exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace. Domestic violence – increased isolation at home and increased risk of physical and mental harm Domestic violence policy for the workplace. Employer to increase awareness of domestic violence and sources of advice and support. Welfare facilities/personal hygiene Access to welfare facilities for frequent handwashing. Restricted access to welfare facilities and safe systems of work. Washing stations provided or installed where needed, well stocked with soap and paper towels, lidded pedal bins to 11 www.ucu.org.uk eliminate need to use hands and keep hazardous waste well contained. Access to sufficient hand sanitiser that meets standards to eliminate the virus. Access to shower rooms and rooms to change out of travel or work clothes. Safe system of work. Isolation rooms or spaces for those who may become ill with Covid-19 symptoms at place of work with safe system of work. Stress Refer to generic, preventative and organisation level stress risk assessment. Risk assessment should identify potential stressors during Covid-19 and preventative and protective control measures that need to be implemented. Multiple changes to ways of working, new technology and pace of work due to Covid-19 and other impacts on mental health such as bereavement and isolation. Stress risk assessments should consider the HSE Management Standards (demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change) to draw out the potential stressors for workers from various groups undertaking various work activities both on site and at home. Controls can also look at workload agreements, reduced workload demands, alternative duties and activities, increased support and communication from managers, bereavement policy etc. Individual stress risk assessments to be competed as needed. Homeworking Refer to homeworking risk assessment. Homeworking risk assessments can consider home environments, access to suitable equipment, training, advice and support, measures to support physical and mental well-being. 12 www.ucu.org.uk Individual DSE risk assessments to be completed where required and/or self-assessment checklists to ensure safe working practices at home. Emergency evacuation procedures (eg Fire) Emergency evacuation systems and procedures should be reviewed and adapted to take into account social distancing requirements and lower staffing levels. Personal protective equipment (PPE) Ensure adequate supply of appropriate PPE as identified in risk assessments. Implement safe systems of work for use and disposal of PPE and ensure fit testing and training is implemented in advance to prevent transmission of Covid-19. Additional considerations Risk assessments should also consider hazards associated with ad hoc and non-routine operations, seasonal tasks, different weather and environmental factors to ensure controls are adequate for all circumstances. For example, in hot weather people will be less likely to wear a face mask and may need increased access to drinking water. In addition, some controls may fail due to human behaviour or practical issues. For instance, PPE may not be available in sufficient type or quantity and some activities may not be able to continue as a result. Reopening buildings and restarting systems safely ensuring all required checks have been done and remedial actions taken. All plant and equipment which have been closed during lock-down must be reviewed for safe operation and to identify new and existing hazards. For instance, hot and cold water systems present a risk of Legionnaires disease. Pest control and other environmental health considerations should also be reviewed and measures implemented before reopening of workplaces. Suggested questions for employers to inform the risk assessment process n What is the local infection rate/R number? n What is the make-up of the workforce and student body by risk factors – women, men, BME, disability, underlying health conditions, young people, new or inexperienced workers, transient workers, women of childbearing age, pregnant (list not exhaustive)? What steps have been taken to capture accurate information from staff and students on this? How has this informed workforce planning and return to work plans? Need to share this information and data with UCU. n How will the above data inform their risk assessments or plans to re-open colleges? n Are people in the organisation competent to undertake risk management and risk assessment in relation to Covid-19 and reopening plans? If not what H&S training will be implemented before reopening and what expertise will they bring in to ensure the 13 www.ucu.org.uk organisation has the necessary expertise to inform their decision making before any reopening? n How can they prevent outbreaks in the workplace and local community without effective track, trace and isolate systems operational? n How can they be assured that their risk assessments and reopening plans are implemented at a time when it is safe to do so? n How will they ensure suitable and sufficient risk assessments are in place across the organisation with all control measures implemented before reopening? n Will they confirm that all training, safety checks and safe systems of work have been completed and implemented before reopening? Other resources Hazards Campaign: reviewing Covid-19 risk assessments Government Guidance for FE during COVID 19 5 steps to working safely during COVID 19 British Occupational Hygiene Society Covid-19 Return to Work Guidance Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Covid-19 Hub