Restarting Research Guide
Daily Health Screening
Early detection of illness can prevent the spread of COVID-19 to your colleagues and families. UCF lab workers must monitor their health daily.
If any of the following conditions occur, UCF personnel must stay home and notify their Principle Investigator (PI), Lab Manager, or Supervisor:
- Within the last 24-hours symptoms including fever (temperature above 100.3°F/ 37.9°C), sweating, chills and shivering, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, irritability, dehydration and/or general weakness
- Shortness of breath or cough within the last 14 days
- Loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Anyone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has demonstrated COVID-19 symptoms within the last 14 days
- You have had close contact (within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes) with anyone outside your home who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or COVID-19 symptoms within the last 14 days
- See www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
Report all Suspected/Probable/Confirmed cases to Student Health at (407) 823-2509.
Perform Pre-Occupancy Lab Check
Prior to the ramp-up of research operations, before starting work, PIs and/or Lab Managers must conduct a pre-check of laboratory conditions and supplies. The following should be assessed:
- Check for leaks or unusual physical conditions in the lab that need to be addressed.
- Fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, and other key safety equipment are operating normally, have current certification (if applicable), and alarms are not activated.
- Safety showers are not obstructed, and eyewashes are functioning properly. Flush all eyewashes until the water runs clear.
- Confirm an adequate supply of:
- personal protective equipment (PPE) to conduct research and disinfection.
- soap, paper towels, and disinfectant for hand washing and cleaning shared equipment/work areas.
- waste-collection supplies for near-term research needs. This includes bleach and ethanol supplies for inactivating biological waste prior to disposal.
- Confirm the availability of correct start-up procedures for critical pieces of equipment. If you are unsure, verify with the manufacturer.
- Ensure that your radioactive material package arrives on time and is checked in properly. If your order does not arrive the day after it is placed, contact the vendor for shipment information. If you need assistance, please contact EHS (407) 823-6300.
- Evaluate which support services and deliveries (such as compressed gases, reagents, dry ice) you may require when your research is restarted. Determine whether those services are operational and will be available when you need them.
- Anticipate delays in response, repairs, the possibility of limited personal protective equipment (PPE), and other consumable supplies.
- Investigate how other facilities such as cores, sample/specimen providers, and collaborators will manage their services and maintain physical distancing requirements so you can prepare for any access requirements or delays.
- Anticipate delays to access facilities in multi-story buildings. For health and safety, physical distancing must be maintained in elevators and shared spaces.
Lab Use Approval
- Confirm you have approval from your Associate Dean of Research to reoccupy the lab.
- The lab areas and equipment used should be disinfected daily and a log kept documenting which personnel conducted the disinfection.
Determine Lab Member Shifts/Rotations (Social Distancing)
Because physical distancing will need to be maintained in the lab, it will not be possible for all lab members to be present in the lab at the same time. This may require coordination with other lab groups.
Remember social distancing is also in effect in the areas leading to and from your lab.
Consider splitting the lab group into teams that will work during different shifts or on alternating days. Experiments should be planned prior to coming into the lab. If lab members do not have work that requires access to the lab, they should not come to the lab. Communicate this to your lab group.
When dividing your group into shifts, take the following into account:
- Although the number of people in the lab should be reduced, researchers must not work alone in the lab. Safety should be your guide.
- Which lab benches are adjacent? Can lab members be scheduled so that immediately adjacent workstations are not in use at the same time? If not, can workers be temporarily assigned to other benches or hoods to create enough separation? Open-design labs may need to operate at reduced capacity.
- Determine which lab operations require close supervision or multiple team members to safely execute. Are there tasks that should be prohibited while physical distancing measures are in effect?
- A method to message everyone in your lab group is strongly suggested. Ensure that everyone has the necessary contact information for the other group members who will not be present during their shift; while the lab was unoccupied, questions or issues about materials or equipment in their workspace may have arisen.
- Ensure that lab members who are essential for the operation of specialized equipment or lab techniques make documentation available to other lab members in case they are not available.
- Take your assigned work schedule into account when planning your research activities. You may not be at liberty to return to the lab, at will, to stop processes or monitor experiments. If possible, avoid running unattended processes. Post information about experiments to communicate hazards to others who will be in the lab when you are not present.
Consider Equipment Startup Hazards
Anticipate the hazards associated with the startup of equipment such as distillation systems, chemical vapor deposition systems, flammable/toxic gas distribution cabinets, etc.
- Consider how you can ensure a safe restart of potentially hazardous systems.
- Review operating manuals and SOPs for safe startup procedures.
- Review equipment condition and safely release or mitigate any stored energy sources.
- Review startup procedures for compressed gas cylinders, gas generators, gas distribution systems, or pressurized systems such as the solvent drying apparatus.
- Plan to restart equipment when the process can be monitored to confirm a safe and continuous operation.
- Before restarting a process, consider what will be necessary to safely shut it down again (if necessary).
Keep Flexibility in Mind
COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. It may become necessary to suspend operations again on short notice for safety and health. Be aware of which equipment may need to be taken offline and which materials would need to be secured in order to ramp down your work. Refer to the UCF Laboratory Ramp-Down Checklist for a list of considerations when shutting down the lab.
Shared Facilities and Equipment
Shared facilities and equipment including fume hoods and biosafety cabinets, procedure rooms, instruments, and instrument/resource facilities will require coordination with other lab groups. To maintain physical distancing requirements in open-access facilities and when using shared equipment:
- Post an hourly schedule on the procedure rooms and shared equipment, utilize a shared calendar or another multiuser scheduling system.
- Disinfect equipment before and after each use. This includes all touchable surfaces. Place a spray bottle with a compatible disinfectant and wipes near the equipment.
- Verify that contact information is available for equipment stewards or facility managers who may not be onsite during all shifts.
- Consider that your access to certain facilities such as a vivarium may be affected by occupancy limitations. Check with the facility about scheduling and restrictions.
Cores and Core Services
Do not assume that Cores and services offered will be the same as before the stay-at-home order. Check with Core facility managers prior to using equipment or requesting services. Distancing guidelines may affect service levels.
Required Lab Attire
Wear a CDC-compliant 2-ply cotton cloth face covering or other university-supplied masks in all UCF buildings. Masks must be worn while in the lab and all other spaces except when eating. For FAQs about COVID-19, refer to www.ucf.edu/coronavirus/faq.
In addition to cloth face coverings, all standard lab attire and PPE including long pants, enclosed shoes, lab coat, and safety glasses must be worn in the lab.
Non-Lab Areas of the Building
- Gloves used in the laboratory, shall not be worn outside the lab, in common areas, or in shared facilities except where normal lab protocol requires gloves to be worn.
- Use a no-touch device such as the blunt end of a pen to operate elevator buttons.
- Arrange seating in break areas so that physical distancing can be maintained. Face all seats in the same direction so that seats do not face each other.
Cleaning and Disinfection
UCF Housekeeping will clean high touch surfaces in common areas outside laboratories. For safety, laboratory personnel are responsible for cleaning and disinfection within laboratories:
- Wash hands when entering the laboratory and when changing gloves or activities.
- In addition to good hand hygiene, routinely disinfect high-touch surfaces such as cabinet handles in the lab.
- The lab should be disinfected daily and a log kept documenting which personnel conducted the disinfection.
- Reduce clutter so that desk areas, lab benches, and other work areas can be properly disinfected at the end of your shift.
- Wear compatible gloves when cleaning.
- If there is any surface dirt, before disinfecting, clean surfaces with soap and water.
- For disinfection use EPA-registered cleaning products with an emerging-viral-pathogens claim. (www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2)
- Labs may also use alcohol to disinfect surfaces. Exercise caution as even 70% alcohol solutions are flammable and can be ignited. If electrical or heat sources are nearby, best practice is to saturate a wipe and apply it to the surface rather than directly spraying.
- Private/Lab Group-Owned Equipment:
- Label or place a sign near lab equipment with a reminder that the equipment must be disinfected before and after each use.
- Place a spray bottle with compatible disinfectant and/or wipes near the equipment. See the cleaning and disinfection information below. (Properly label the container.)
All non-hazardous waste (garbage) must be packaged and placed outside of the laboratory in corridors for pick up. Hazardous waste (chemical and biological) will continue as before; if the need to change scheduled pickups arises, altered schedules will be communicated by Environmental Health and Safety.
EHS is available at (407) 823-6300, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Call UCF Police at (407) 823-5555 for assistance or 911 for emergencies that pose immediate physical harm.
- If you discover a condition that poses a threat to you or to others, such as a fire or an uncontrolled hazardous material release, isolate the hazard (e.g., close the door to the lab), notify occupants in the area, activate the fire alarm, exit the building, and call 911.
- Do not use laboratory equipment such as a chemical fume hood or biological safety cabinet if it is not working properly (e.g. – audible alarm or warning lights). Report the condition to your PI or Lab Manager.