Laboratories - Guidance on Working in the Laboratory & Physical Distancing

To support researchers continuing or returning to work in the laboratory during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Reminder for all personnel:

  • Every day, before you come to campus, complete U of G’s COVID-19 Screening Form. Do not come to campus if the form indicates you should stay home.

  • If you are ill / have symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19, complete the Ontario COVID-19 Self-Assessment and follow the direction given. Also complete and submit the University Employee Self Declaration Form or Student Self Declaration Form. If you are an employee, inform your supervisor of your absence. If you are a student inform your advisor / course instructor and contact Student Health Services (SHS) at 519-824-4120 ext. 52131.

  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 related inquiries, call the U of G COVID-19 Call Centre at 519-824-4120 ext. 53906. The call centre will guide you through the reporting process and will connect you with supports from Student Health Services or Occupational Health and Wellness.

  • If you become sick while at work, STOP working, isolate yourself from others, inform your Supervisor and go home as soon as possible, avoiding public transportation and taking measures to protect others around you. 

Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Public Health Ontario (PHO) advise the following:  

  • Strict hygiene measures, including avoiding touching your face, frequent hand washing and physical distancing (2m separation between yourself and other people) will reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission; and,
  • Using a medical or non-medical masks may reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in workplaces 

The following guidance will help us maintain our health and safety as we return to laboratory operations:

  1. Minimize the number of research team members (faculty, staff, students, etc.) who access the laboratory at any time to ensure all individuals can continue to practice physical distancing. Consider:
    • Staggering schedules of lab personnel, noting that working alone situations must be managed appropriately.  Stagger break and lunch periods as well.
    • Creating “teams” of lab personnel that will work at the same time so as to minimize the number of different contacts an individual may have.  This is meant to reduce the number of people that would be impacted in the event of a positive case of COVID-19 within the research group.
    • Adding visual markings to the space (e.g. floor) to indicate appropriate physical distancing. 
    • Relocating equipment and reconfiguring workstations to support physical distancing.
    • Establishing uni-directional workflow (i.e. one-way paths for movement within the lab)
  2. Wear a non-medical mask. If work within 2m is required, a medical mask must be worn and wearing eye protection (face shield or goggles) should be considered. Physical distancing must still be prioritized. Review and follow the EHS guidance on using non-medical masks and medical masks. Review and follow the EHS's guidance on using non-medical masks and medical masks.
  3. Implement appropriate disinfection of equipment, and common surfaces.  For example, using an appropriate disinfectant, wipe down the following at the beginning of use and before the end of use on a given day, or before its use by another individual:
    • Equipment surfaces 
    • Bench tops 
    • Faucets
    • Fume hood sash, and workspace
    • Door handles
  4. Implement appropriate hand hygiene practices, including regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  At a minimum, hands should be washed upon entering the lab, upon doffing gloves, and before leaving the lab.
  5. Ensure that fume hood verification and biosafety cabinet certifications are current, as applicable.
  6. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of PPE to support your laboratory activities.  
  7. Be prepared for disruptions or delays in the supply chain due to limited availability of supplies, and/or slower than normal processing or delivery times.
  8. Ensure that training is current. Registration for EHS online training courses can be done via the EHS registration system.

Approved disinfectants for hard surfaces can be found on the Health Canada website e.g. Virkon.  

Please contact the Laboratory Safety Officer at lab.safety@uoguelph.ca with any questions.