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Chair of Health & Safety Committee reports on latest measures to prepare for autumn 2020

Dr Tim Westlake, Chief Operating Officer

As chair of the Health and Safety Committee I wanted to provide colleagues with regular updates of the work of the Committee, the issues we are considering and the decisions we make. The Health & Safety Committee is meeting fortnightly over the summer and, if necessary, through the autumn. I hope my updates will answer many of the questions colleagues have about the University’s progress in assuring the health and safety of staff, students and visitors on our campus.

The Health & Safety Committee is made up of colleagues from across the University and includes representatives from all three campus trade unions, as well as the Students’ Union. Within the context of the challenges Covid-19 is bringing to health and safety, we have increased the trade union representation, so each union now has two representatives.  All Committee members play an invaluable role in addressing the current challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has created.

The main item of business at our meeting last week was a discussion of the Health & Safety plan that will take us up to September 2020. The key areas of focus in this plan include:

  • Reopening of research laboratories as well as offices and other low-hazard areas;
  • Plans for teaching and learning spaces (including computer clusters);
  • Plans for residential accommodation (including the arrivals process and the running of residences once term starts);
  • Working practices for remote working by staff, including possible ergonomic and mental health issues associated with home working or blended working;
  • Engagement and communication, including the preparation of induction and other materials to support staff and students in creating a safe campus, and how we might create a culture in which we can challenge each other to behave in line with social distancing and other guidelines.

Our excellent Health and Safety team will bring a revised version of this plan – incorporating input from Committee members – to our next meeting for approval. 

Health and Safety colleagues have also been working with colleagues from Estates and IT Services to make sure we are ready for A level results day on Thursday (13 August), when some staff on our Clearing hotline will make use of cluster space in Shawcross, and we will welcome prospective students to campus for the first of three visitors’ days (13-15 August).

Another major goal is to prepare more buildings for increased occupancy by the end of August, to support the arrival of our students in September. Education and Social Work has an early start for students and will be the first School to open, on 4 September. An induction video for staff who will be returning to work on campus is now live online via our LearnUpon platform.

I would like to send my thanks to all professional services and academic colleagues who are working so hard to plan and deliver these measures, and I look forward to sharing more updates with you as the Health and Safety Committee continues to meet fortnightly in the run-up to the start of term.

Tim Westlake
COO and chair of Health & Safety Committee

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Monday, 10 August 2020

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