Nick Creighton, Health & Safety Officer

Here is the latest H&S update from Nick:

“As we now approach Freshers’ Week and the next academic year, the re-opening and re-entry to campus is picking up a pace and we have numerous areas open. Initially, the focus was on research areas. As reps we have, in partnership with Unite and UCU, attended numerous re-entry inspections (Safety Walks).

Just this last week we’ve inspected and agreed sign off for study areas in Edward Boyle Library and two levels in the LaidLaw Library; we’re going to be looking at the same for the Brotherton Library and other central teaching spaces etc…  All these are with significantly reduced capacity, with the flexibility of increase as and when the regulations change.  (Although, at the moment, things seem to be changing in the other direction with more restrictions coming in next week).

With these changes in mind, we’re currently looking at the implication of the ‘6 rule’, how it will impact the campus and how it can be managed and enforced, although we hope that the majority will follow rules that are implemented for our own health and safety.

We’re now also involved in the consultation on ‘Test, Track and Trace’ and how that is managed on campus, whether it be staff, students and the diverse areas that we have from Libraries, the Refectory or sports facilities.  Ensuring we have systems for reporting, but also supporting colleagues in the event of an isolated case or potentially numerous cases in a given area, which may mean isolated restrictions or closing of a building etc…

A concern that we have raised through the inspection process is rest and welfare facilities. As we increase occupancy, we need to be able to supply these facilities for staff and students, we can’t expect colleagues to remain in one working environment for the duration of their working day.

That said, we will also have a significant number of colleagues who will be working from home until after the Christmas break, so we need to ensure that these people have both the support not only from a working perspective, but also from a wellbeing perspective, especially when it comes to mental health.”

Here’s one of Nick’s previous posts:

“UNISON is heavily involved in the reopening of campus. This involves reviewing and being consulted on new systems of working, whether that’s remote working from home or on campus (or even a split working location). We have recently assisted in the development of the University’s guidance on managing the workplace and adapting to working with COVID 19, including numerous guidance documents, such as working from home, returning to campus and, most recently, the guidance on face masks / coverings.

All of these and more will be reviewed moving forward to keep in line with scientific advice and the guidance issued by the Government / HSE.

Our branch is also heavily involved in attending inspections (safety walkarounds) following changes in the workplace to make them COVID safe. As branch H&S Officer I have been on site around 10 times in the last four weeks alone; a number of safety reps from UNISON and other TUs (Unite/UCU) have also attended safety walkarounds during this period as we gradually move to re-opening campus.

These past two weeks we have worked very closely with library services so that they can open limited services in Edward Boyle and Brotherton Libraries, ensuring and assisting the University to move towards business as usual (in a new way of working).

We are also working with the University to push and promote Health & Wellbeing, especially mental health, as the pandemic has had a significant impact on society as a whole, ensuring that the employer meets its duty of care for staff, students and stake holders, and within the city of Leeds and surrounding communities.

I have been on site for two days this week, going through the return to campus inspection / safety walkarounds, looking at locations in Worsley and Electronic & Physical Sciences.

The Branch is also offering support / guidance for colleagues who have any questions, concerns around health, wellbeing, shielding and the proposed plans to return to working on campus.”