Nick Creighton, Health & Safety Officer

Here is the latest H&S update from Nick:

“We are now well into semester 1, which will take us up to the Christmas break. I can’t believe that Christmas will be in a couple of months’ time, it’s been such a surreal year by any stretch of the imagination. As we near the end of October, most areas that are research intensive and central teaching areas are open. So, phase one and some of phase two are completed. We have another three days of campus visits this week for safety walkarounds / inspections, School of Law, Parts of Engineering (EPS), and School of English.

“This will then be a nice time to step back, pause, and see if the systems put in place work, are easy to follow, whether people understand the signage and the one way systems, and to focus on rest and welfare areas moving forward.  The plan for 2021 (which we all hope will be better) is to see if we can improve how things are done next semester, while staying in line with both Government and University guidance.  Following the recent changes to a 3 tier approach of managing to control the virus, we need to decide how that squares with our approach at the University.

“Now that we have more people back at work, and that number will increase after Furlough finishes at the end of October, more people will be on campus. With this in mind, we have colleagues contacting us on a daily basis, seeking reassurance and guidance, especially as we see cases rising. It is clear to see that a lot of people are very anxious and in need of the support which is offered through our branch.”

Here’s the presentation that Nick gave at our open members’ meeting on 6th October.

Here are some of Nick’s previous posts:

18th September, 2020

“Another week has passed and the branch has attended numerous safety walk arounds across campus this week.  This week the focus was to finish of research spaces in stem faculties but also focus on some of the social spaces and welfare spaces, although these are now very limited due to social distancing and occupancy controls, at least staff have some spaces to have a rest.

We have also been involved in some of the external signage, so as we head into freshers week students and staff returning will see blue COVID  signage, but also a mix of welcoming signs.  There will also be around 200 ambassadors working in shift helping to sign post people around the campus and offering support in a socially distanced way…

WE have also been involved in the Universities resource to help with mental health, this is with REMPLOY and will support the Universities resource.

Don’t forget any questions or concerns contact your local rep and / or the branch and we can help….”

15th September, 2020

“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.”

13th September, 2020

“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.”