As lockdown restrictions are eased in England, we have re-opened some of our buildings. This means that key staff can get into the spaces and put new safety measures in place. The teams are also preparing the buildings for when the larger student population returns in September and October.
We spoke to Faculty Safety Manager Dr Julie Etches to find out what’s happening in Engineering at the moment.
The first step in ensuring that people can use our buildings safely is to have maximum occupancy numbers across the buildings. This includes offices, laboratories, and communal spaces. Having fewer people in the spaces will make it easier to maintain appropriate spacing.
To support distancing, we have physically reduced the furniture available in social spaces. For example, we have removed most of the chairs in the cafés and common rooms, so there is only one chair per table. We have also reduced the occupancy of toilets.
We are still working on what will happen when students return. Our priorities include avoiding congestion points and working out how to balance the needs of our students with the limitations of our spaces.
Using the buildings
Entrances and corridors often get very busy at peak times. To help mitigate this we’ve introduced one-way systems in our buildings to manage the flow of people moving through them. We now have hand sanitiser stations set up for people to use when they enter and before they leave the buildings. We also have lots of signage to remind people about social distancing and good hygiene.
Our laboratories now have markings between machines and equipment to ensure appropriate spacing and our workshops have one-way systems to manage normal safety requirements in conjunctions with covid-safe requirements such as regularly wiping down surfaces.
Ways of working
Some of our technical services staff have been working throughout the pandemic to help produce PPE, and some of our research groups are already back in the buildings. This means there’s already a core of people who are used to new procedures and ways of working.
Our technical services team are operating in ‘bubbles’, sticking to one area with separate facilities and entrances. Different research groups are using different building entrances. These measures will support test and trace, minimising the numbers of people who would need to quarantine in case of new infections.
Our management team are training all staff and ensuring everyone is supported to understand the new way of working as we prepare to welcome more people onto campus.
Coronavirus updates from the University of Bristol
For the latest Bristol University advice and information on Coronavirus please visit https://www.bristol.ac.uk/students/coronavirus/