Experimental Lab‐Based Research Guidance
This section applies to lab‐based research across USC campuses, including science, engineering, the health sciences, and more, defined by shared spaces, equipment, and other infrastructure. Because of the vast variety of lab research environments, research ramp‐up requires individual PI research ramp-up plans . PIs must ensure that personnel adhere to specified conditions of social distancing and hygiene.
- Clean environment. alcohol‐based hand rubs containing 70% alcohol must be provided and used upon entering buildings and elevators on all floors.
- Provide tissues and no‐touch disposal containers.
- Staff will be required to stay home if they are sick or someone in their household is infected with the coronavirus.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, doorknobs, counters, tables, various equipment, and appliances. Spray disinfectant in common areas.
- Use of protective removable films on equipment‐human interface, common computer keyboards and other shared instruments.
- Establish alternating days or add extra shifts to reduce total number of employees in the facilities at a given time; this would allow employees to maintain a safe distancing from one another.
- Continue to practice physical distancing in the laboratory and all other workspaces.
- Build up adequate stock of PPE.
- Stagger schedule for our employees in support of physical distancing, including shifts. However, personnel should never work alone in any wet laboratory setting.
- Consider the air refresh in laboratory buildings. Increase vent circulation in all lab areas and the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the buildings.
- Avoid entering the workspace of others.
- Place posters that encourage hand and respiratory hygiene to help stop the spread of COVID‐19 throughout research buildings.
- Provide employees with hand sanitizer and PPEs to be utilized while at work.
- Develop hygiene and etiquette standards in restrooms and common interaction areas (e.g., one person per standard restroom at any one time)
- Office space: No more than 2 people in a standard office space at the same time. In large rooms, no more than 3 people in the same room and at least one cubicle/desk empty in between each person.
- Design safe practices while dealing with package deliveries.
- Insist on lunch and coffee‐break etiquette (consider regulating use of common coffee machines, microwave ovens).
- Identify and assign a workplace coordinator (e.g., department‐level emergency operations lead) who will be responsible for COVID‐19 issues and the potential impact on the workplace.
- The departmental faculty task force, having reviewed, revised and approved faculty research ramp-up plans, will be tasked to have in place systems to monitor compliance with density requirements in all department research labs, should verify that disinfection procedures to high‐touch surfaces, restrooms, and any other shared space are adequately occurring, and make plans for how to handle at‐work infection of researchers and potential implementation of quarantine procedures for affected labs.
- Taskforce should assess essential functions and reliance to ensure that the researchers have continued support and service while protecting the health of department staff.
- Continue to cross‐train employees to perform essential functions so that operations can continue without interruption even if key employees are absent.
- Develop metrics to determine workload and staffing levels that are needed to continue research operations.
- Avoid non‐essential travel.