EHS COVID-19 FAQs

The following list of FAQs has been compiled by EHS staff. For additional information and FAQs, please see:

Reactivation Process

Is EHS approving my research reactivation application?

Although EHS Integrator is being used as the mechanism for submission of reactivation application, EHS is not the approving agency. Department Chairs, Deans, and the Provost’s Office are reviewing and approving these applications for reactivation. A notification of approval will be sent to the PI when approved.

If my reactivation application is approved, how will my staff get their required face coverings?

A return to work starter kit will be delivered to your laboratory for all returning staff. The kit will contain 50 masks, 3 containers of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.

What training is required for Phase 1 Reactivation?

Reactivation Training for Researchers and is required before returning to work. The purpose of this training is to increase health and safety awareness for Yale University community members and to provide guidelines to decrease exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  Training is also required for non-researchers returning to campus: Return to Campus Training for Non-Researchers.

Can I provide hands-on training and physical assistance, which requires working in close proximity to each other?  Example: training or assisting someone using a table saw or demonstrating PCR techniques?

The 6-foot social distancing rule is to be strictly enforced. If it is impossible to perform your work at a distance of 6 feet, contact EHS at ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 to perform job hazard analysis.

Will my lab be able to order and receive radioactive materials during Phase 1?

When a lab’s Phase 1 research reactivation application is approved by their Department, their Dean and the Provost’s office, the PI will be notified. This approval will include the work the lab was previously authorized to perform, including radioactive material use. EHS is prepared to support this when Phase 1 applications are approved. Reminder: All reactivating radioactive material use labs need to reactivate monthly surveys. Surveys should be reactivated during the first week of return.

The first phase of reactivation appears to be directed for researchers.  I need to access Yale facilities/equipment for work that I believe is essential, but is not research related.  What process do I follow to obtain approval to access my facilities/equipment? 

During Phase 1, all personnel must get approval to return. Complete the Phase 1-Research Reactivation Registration in EHS Integrator. This will need to be approved by the Department Chair, Dean, or Provost’s Office before any work can begin.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Will EHS be providing respirators or other personal protective equipment upon request?

Face coverings are available by a variety of means including starter kits for both researchers and non-researchers:

Additional surgical masks are available for purchase in the Yale Stockrooms. Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer is available as well.

If you believe you need other PPE as part of your job, please contact EHS at ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 so that we may perform an OSHA PPE Hazard Assessment and decide the apporpriate PPE for your work area.

Will EHS pay for and provide the PPE needed for my lab?

The University will initially be providing face coverings to wear in public areas and surgical masks for face covering purposes while working in a lab. All other necessary, future and required PPE is to be provided by the PI or Department.

Should I launder my lab coat more frequently?

EHS is not making special recommendations for frequency of laundering lab coats. As before, lab coats should be laundered through a laundry service on a regular basis or when soiled or contaminated and not be taken home to be laundered.

Ventilation

What modifications will be made to offices and buildings?

Yale Facilities is looking at ventilation systems in buildings on campus to determine whether modifications need to be made to increase outside air and/or filtration to protect against the spread of COVID-19. All campus buildings will be designated an Operating Level which will define cleaning protocols and physical and HVAC modifications as necessary. Any necessary modification will be made before re-occupancy. Refer to the Office of Facilities Reopening Plan for University Buildings https://facilities.yale.edu/office-facilities-reopening-plan-university-buildings.

Will the ventilation in my laboratory be increased or modified?

All research laboratories are 100% outside air, with air change rates currently ranging from 6-10 air changes per hour. These systems are designed for safety and to move air efficiently away from persons in the space, and the laboratories on campus are operating at or above recommended air change rates. In most cases, only minor modifications will need to be made to the existing HVAC systems for laboratories. Refer to the Office of Facilities Reopening Plan for University Buildings https://facilities.yale.edu/office-facilities-reopening-plan-university-buildings.

Should I leave my lab doors open to increase ventilation?

No, do not prop open any doors, especially laboratory doors, which should always remain closed. The ventilation in laboratories are designed so that they are under negative pressure to the hallways and other common areas and must remain closed to work correct. In addition, laboratory doors to the hallways need to be closed for fire code and security reasons.

My lab is equipped with a purge button. Should I use it to increase general air flow in my lab?

No. Purge buttons are installed in some laboratories to be used in an emergency such as a chemical spill. Purge modes increase air flow, speed, and turbulence. Occupants are instructed to evacuate after activating. Purge buttons should not be used to increase ventilation in general in an occupied laboratory.

Cleaning/Disinfecting

Will Custodial Services be increasing their cleaning protocol in response to this crisis?

Custodial Services has been working with EHS in selecting appropriate cleaners and disinfectants and developing SOPs to use during this pandemic. While Custodial Services has increased the frequency of cleaning for most buildings, it is everyone’s responsibility to help ensure a clean workplace. See Cleaning and Disinfection of Public Areas, Office and Workplaces on Campus.  Please contact your Facilities Superintendent for additional questions or concerns.

Will Custodial Services disinfect/clean my laboratory bench, desk, etc.?

Custodial Services will regularly clean high contact points, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, and bathrooms, but they will not be performing additional cleaning inside laboratories or offices. It is important that all staff take responsibility and periodically disinfect their personal work areas, shared equipment, desks and phones. All returning staff will initially receive disinfectant wipes to use for this purpose.

Does EHS have any recommendations for disinfecting shared equipment (computer keyboard, microscopes, centrifuges, shop tools and equipment, Yale vehicles, etc.)?

You should disinfect equipment after use with a CDC-recommended disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. These include products that include 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, 60-70 percent alcohol, and 1-5 percent bleach diluted in water. See the EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19 as well as the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC) list of products that have been pre-approved by the EPA for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogen. Contact EHS at ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 if you have any questions regarding the appropriate disinfectants.

Where can I purchase the appropriate disinfectants?

Speak with you manager about purchasing the appropriate disinfectants listed above. Contact EHS at ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 if you have any questions regarding the appropriate disinfectants.

How can I make my own disinfectant?

The following ingredients can be used to make one liter of disinfectant with a final concentration of 80% ethanol:

  • 800ml of 100% ethanol and 200ml of distilled water  OR
  • 842ml of 95% ethanol and 158 ml of distilled water

Mix the ingredients by gently shaking together in your container.

Personal Hygiene

Will EHS be providing hand sanitizer?

No. EHS will not be providing hand sanitizer. In place of hand sanitizer, wash your hands at a sink with soap and warm water or at a hand washing sink in the lab for at least 20 seconds, whenever possible. Hand sanitizer should only be used in places where there is no sink available.

How can I make my own hand sanitizer?

The following ingredients can be used to make one liter of hand sanitizer with a final concentration of 80% ethanol and 5% glycerin (glycerol):

  • 800ml of 100% ethanol
  • 50ml of glycerin
  • 150ml of distilled water

Mix the ingredients by gently shaking together in your container.

What are proper handwashing techniques?

Please refer to the CDC video on proper handwashing techniques. Also, remember to use paper towels to shut off the faucet when finished washing your hands to avoid recontamination. Please consider printing the CDC poster, “Stop the Spread of Germs” and hanging them in the proper locations.

Additional FAQs

My co-worker is refusing to wear a face covering or surgical mask, who do I contact?

You should speak with your co-worker about the importance about wearing a face covering or surgical mask.

Faculty, staff, trainees, and students who are concerned that safety measures are not being followed may bring a concern to their PI, another supervisor, their Department Chair, Faculty Director, Dean’s Designee, or an officer in the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs. You may also contact a designated COVID-19 Safety Officer. Additionally, you may make anonymous or identified reports through the University Hotline.  

Faculty, staff, trainees, and students who are concerned that state-mandated safety requirements are not being followed may call the state hotline at 211. Supervisors may not retaliate against individuals for raising concerns about COVID-related safety and health conditions.

What if I notice my co-worker appears to be ill with COVID-19?

You should speak with your co-worker, or your PI or supervisor, or call the COVID-19 Resource Line at 203-432-6604 or 866-924-9253.

What do I do if someone I have had contact with has Covid or has to self-isolate?

Call the University Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604 or 866-924-9253 for guidance.

Are construction workers and contractors allowed on campus at this time?

Construction companies and contractors have approval with project management to work on specified projects. These projects have all been approved and COVID-19 site-specific plans for the safety of contractors and the public have been developed.

My biosafety cabinet is due for certification. Can I delay this until after the COVID-19 situation runs its course?

Biosafety cabinets are required to be certified on an annual basis. Our certification vendor, ENV Services, has confirmed that they are following all CDC recommendations. If you wish to delay certification, the ENV Technician will have to disable your cabinet as work cannot be performed in a non-certified unit. Yale EHS will continue to schedule certifications.

What if I am required to enter a high-risk environment such as healthcare environment caring for suspect patients as part of my job (ie. Facilities, Information Technology, deliveries, etc.)?

Contact EHS at ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 for guidance and the site-specific protocol to enter these areas.

Does EHS have any precautions for departmental or group meetings?

Please refer to Group Gathering Information on Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page. as well as the CDC’s “Don’t Spread Germs at Work” handout.  Please consider using alternative methods  such  teleconference, zoom, email, text, etc. for departmental or group meetings.

Are minors still allowed on campus to participate in educational research and/or clinical activities?

No minors participating in educational research and/or clinical activities are allowed on campus through at least the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Applications for minors to participate in educational research and/or clinical activities will not be processed until further notice and all registrations that were in process have been cancelled.

If you have any questions on minors participating in educational research and/or clinical activities, please ehsintegrator@yale.edu.

Are visiting undergraduates still allowed on campus to participate in educational research and/or clinical activities?

Only visiting undergraduates who have been authorized to participate in educational research and/or clinical activities are allowed on campus at this time.  Applications for visiting undergraduates to participate in educational research and/or clinical activities will not be processed until further notice and all registrations that were in process have been cancelled.

If you have any questions on visiting undergraduates participating in educational research and/or clinical activities, please ehsintegrator@yale.edu.

Where can I find University updates regarding COVID-19?

Please refer to Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page for updates.

What do I need to know about travelling?

Please refer to the Travel and Health Information on Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page.

What precautions can I take to avoid getting sick?

Please refer to the Precautions for Your Well-Being and Safety Information on Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page.

What is the University doing to prepare for COVID-19?

Please refer to the University Planning and Response Information on Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page.

Where can I see University messages regarding COVID-19?

Please refer the University Announcements About COVID-19 Information Page.

What do I do if I become ill?

Please refer to the Yale University’s COVID-19 Information Page on proper procedures if you become ill?

Who can I contact if I have additional COVID-19-related questions for EHS?

Please contact ehs@yale.edu or 203-785-3550 and we will deliver your message to the appropriate staff member to contact you.