How to protect yourself and other, enhanced hygiene and face coverings advice.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of respiratory infections is by practising good respiratory hygiene, such as:
- avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
- maintaining good hand hygiene; washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser, after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet, and prior to eating and drinking
- when coughing or sneezing cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
The Government has launched a hand washing campaign and the University have disseminated 'how to' posters on best hand washing technique.
You can reduce your risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections by practising good hygiene:
- avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- When you arrive at work or home
- after coughing or sneezing,
- after going to the toilet,
- and prior to eating and drinking
- If you are unable to use soap and water, hand santiser could be used but you must ensure it is 60% alcohol to be effective and you must wash your hands as soon as you are able to.
Although you may now be working from home, please ensure you continue to frequently wash your hands, in particular, if you have been outside and before eating.
Hand washing posters
Hand washing posters have been displayed at all sinks around the estates. If you require to, you can download and print off the poster here:
As our buildings reopen, hand sanitisers will be supplied in the entrance way of all open buildings. Local risk assessments will inform if more are required. However, washing hands with soap and water is still the most effective means of preventing a spread and if using hand sanitisers you should also follow this up by proper hand washing.
We are aware of a confusion regarding hand driers and whether paper towels are 'safer' to use. As long as hands are washed correctly, as above, then either paper towels or hand driers can be used.
In line with Scottish Government guidance, it is now mandatory that face coverings are worn in the following areas, unless an exemption applies:
- all of our libraries
- study spaces
- hospitality areas (including front of house staff)
- staff canteens and staff rooms (unless seated and eating)
- communal areas such as corridors (including all student/customer accessible areas in Libraries).
Under the current enhanced protection level, face coverings should also be worn by both staff and students in the following areas even if 2m physical distancing can be maintained:
- indoor learning and teaching settings, which include teaching laboratories as well as all seated teaching areas
Exemptions include the following:
- medical exemption, see below
- if the wearing of a face covering would impact safety, for example in a laboratory when working with an open flame when they can be removed temporarily during this task – other measures, such as 2m distancing, must then be observed
- if wearing a face covering will impact those who are hearing impaired, when the face covering can be temporarily removed to allow for better communication – other measures, such as 2m distancing, must then be observed
- for staff, if 2m physical distancing can be maintained or if there is a physical barrier – for example when sitting in an office (including a shared office, as long as 2m distancing is observed) or at a reception with a Perspex screen (except for indoor learning and teaching settings as above).
- Other exemptions are listed at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-use-of-face-coverings/#Face%20covering%20exemptions
A face covering can be any covering of the mouth and nose that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe. Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes.
Staff and students should be aware that there are certain conditions and hidden disabilities that may preclude persons from wearing face coverings and should ensure they understand and respect this. In line with our Dignity & Respect policy, any bullying or harassment on this issue will not be tolerated.
Scottish Government guidance
There are a number of places in which it is now mandatory to wear a face covering. Please see the Scottish Government’s website for the most up to date guidance:
Wearing a face covering is intended to help protect others and reduce transmission in the community, particularly where physical distancing is more difficult. The wearing of a face covering is in addition to, and not instead of, all other control measures already implemented within the University – these include 2m physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, enhanced ventilation and hand and respiratory hygiene.
The Scottish Government also advises that “where 2 metre physical distancing cannot be maintained or there is not a partition, the onus to wear a face covering in indoor communal areas in a workplace is on the individual.” (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-use-of-face-coverings/#Face%20coverings%20at%20work)
Full guidance on this can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-universities-colleges-and-student-accommodation-providers/pages/hygiene-and-cleaning/#PPE
We continue to monitor the guidance closely and will adjust accordingly. However, the effect of the above guidance is that staff, students and visitors are expected to wear face coverings in all University buildings at all times, except in very limited circumstances.
The advice from Health Protection Scotland continues to be that there is no need or requirement for people to wear a surgical or fitted face mask or gloves in the local community, including the University campus. The University is continuing to concentrate on social distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene as these are still the best way to protect yourself and others.
Please note, face coverings and face masks (both surgical or fitted) are not the same. Face coverings can be made of any soft material and simply cover the mouth and nose and are designed to protect others. Face masks are designed to afford protection to both the wearer and others. Further University guidance on face masks has been published on the Health and Safety website.
There are particular reasons why wearing face masks and gloves in non-healthcare settings is not advised. These include the following:
- Masks and gloves must be changed frequently and disposed of appropriately – they will become soiled very quickly, for example with sweat build up.
- Taking off masks and gloves must be undertaken in a safe manner to avoid cross contamination.
- People tend to touch their face more frequently when wearing masks as they can become uncomfortable or not be correctly fitted – strong advice to avoid infection in the current situation is to not touch your face.
- The virus may still exist on gloves, in the same way as it would on hands, and be transferred from gloves onto other hard surfaces. After wearing gloves, people may wash their hands less as they think they are protected, which increases the risk when touching their mouth or eyes.