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August 18, 2020

Sent on behalf of Mark A. Barteau, Vice President for Research

 

Health and Safety in Research

 

The health and safety of everyone engaged in research activities, including both researchers and study participants, is of paramount importance at Texas A&M. We continue to have a robust program of trainings, PPE use, and laboratory inspections to ensure appropriate research practices. Since COVID-19, we have implemented additional measures to protect health and safety, including social distancing, laboratory occupancy, and cleaning and mask requirements. We will continue to monitor the incidence of COVID-19 on campus and in our community and stand ready to implement additional measures if warranted.

What should you do if you have concerns about laboratory conditions or research practices?

Even though researchers are conscientious and committed to high standards, instances may occur when our high standards are not met, or individuals feel that they are being asked to carry out activities that appear unsafe for themselves or those around them. While discussion with one’s immediate supervisor is always the recommended first step in resolving such issues, students, post-docs, and other researchers may not always be comfortable with these conversations. The purpose of this message is to remind members of our research community that they have many individuals available to help them to address health and safety concerns. These people include their department head, associate head or associate dean of graduate studies, the Undergraduate Ombudsperson (v-balester@tamu.edu), the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (ombuds@tamu.edu), or the Division of Research (vpr@tamu.edu). Ethics Point also may be used: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/media/en/gui/20488/index.html; however, please be aware that anonymous reports may make specific concerns more difficult to resolve.

The most important thing that each of us can do is to take personal responsibility for the protection of ourselves and those around us. This means wearing masks or other appropriate facial coverings on campus except when alone in a private office. It means being vigilant about cleaning one’s workspace, shared equipment, and surrounding areas. It means honoring work schedules and sign-ups designed to maintain prescribed limits on lab occupancy. It means behaving responsibly both on and off campus. Most importantly, it means that under no circumstances should you come to work when ill or exhibiting any known symptoms of COVID-19.

As a community, we have successfully resumed many research activities this summer. With the resumption of classes, the frequency of interaction with others will invariably increase. This is not the time to relax our focus on research safety or on the things we need to do every day to protect ourselves and our fellow Aggies from COVID-19. Let’s keep up the great work, Ags!