You will have seen recent communications from the Principal regarding the return of some staff to campus. We are seeking members’ views on the key health and safety issues this raises. We are particularly interested in hearing from members working in laboratory spaces, where the return to work is already beginning, but we want to hear from as many colleagues as possible.
In meetings with management, the branch committee and Health & Safety reps have emphasised there must be no rush to return to campus while it is not clear if there will be a second wave of infections. The return must prioritise safety, both of those who return to campus and those who continue to work from home. Any return to campus must be accompanied by a risk assessment which is communicated to staff in good time and shared for meaningful consultation with the trade unions.
To help us represent you on these issues, please follow the steps below if you are asked to return to campus.
- Access your risk assessment
If you have been asked to return to campus, you should make sure that a COVID-19 risk assessment has been prepared and that you have had a chance to read it. All members of staff should be able to access risk assessments through the university’s MySafety portal.
If you have been asked to return to work but no risk assessment has been completed, contact your line manager and tell us as soon as possible. No one should be asked to return to work without a proper risk assessment.
- Check if the risk assessment is suitable and sufficient
Just because a risk assessment has been conducted for your area does necessarily not mean that returning to work is safe for you. Some of the information may not be accurate, and the controls may not be appropriate or realistic. There may be additional circumstances relevant to you or your role which the general risk assessment does not capture. For example, you might be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 or caring for family members who are. You can ask your line manager for a specific risk assessment of your own role if you feel this is the case.
Remember: you are the person best placed to know how to carry out your job safely. If a risk assessment doesn’t look suitable and sufficient, you can draw on your experience to seek improvements. You can also speak to your colleagues, even if they are not union members, and find out if they have any concerns.
- Make your local concerns heard by contacting the union
If you have a health and safety concern about the university’s plans for returning to work, contacting your union is the best way to raise it. Employers are legally obliged to consult with trade unions about matters of health and safety. We regularly meet with university management and participate in the university-wide Health and Safety Advisory Group. We represent all members of staff at these meetings, even those who are not union members
As we review risk assessments, we would like to hear from you. Is there a pressing concern in your area which is not being considered in the risk assessment? Are the control measures feasible? Do your colleagues have similar concerns?
If you have any information which you can share, please contact a union rep in your department or email QMUCU at email@example.com.
Furthermore, if you are interested in becoming a Health and Safety Rep who can formally represent your department, please let us know.