Employee Health

UAB and the UA System are committed to maintaining a safe environment for its employees, and the transition back from Limited Business Operations that is informed by state and local laws, as well as guidance from health organizations such as the CDC. Outlined below are what defines close contact and what to do if students, faculty and staff have one, as well as what to do if you or someone you know has symptoms or tests positive. UAB Human Resources provides additional entry guidance for supervisors, including non-compliance, dress code, employee illness, attendance, work schedules, childcare, accommodations, etc. 

Use UAB Healthcheck to alert Employee Health to a close contact that could put you at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, defined as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes. With proper social distancing and adherence to face covering/mask requirements, you would not necessarily be at an increased risk or need to quarantine because someone in your class or building/floor tests positive.

Assessment of risk, monitoring and work restriction decisions for non-healthcare provider employees with exposure to or infection with COVID-19

The documents, definitions and guidance below is for UAB employees who work solely in a non-healthcare environment to assess risk and inform protocols based on possible or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. This guidance may change as we receive new or additional guidance from the CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health, Jefferson County Department of Public Health and/or University officials.

Have you been exposed, symptomatic or received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis? Click here for the Possible or Confirmed COVID-19 Checklist for Supervisors/Employees/Students.

Definitions

  • Self-monitoring: The employee should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperature twice a day and remain alert for other symptoms of COVID-19. COVID 19 symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts current symptoms online.
  • Active monitoring: Employee Health assumes responsibility for establishing regular communication with the employee to assess for the presence of fever or other symptoms. The mode of communication may include telephone calls or any electronic or internet-based means of communication.
  • Close contact for non-healthcare exposures: An individual being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters), of a person with COVID-19 for 15-minutes over 24 hours. This applies from 2 days before symptom onset until 10 days after symptom onset for the person with COVID-19. If the person with COVID-19 is asymptomatic, then it applies until 10 days after positive test for COVID-19. 

Symptoms and Exposures

Employees with close contact exposure or who develop signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must complete the Employee Symptom and Exposure form (University employees, UAB Medicine employees) and be cleared by Employee Health prior to returning to work.

  • Close Contact Exposures: Employees should self-quarantine and perform self-monitoring until 14 days after the last potential exposure. If they do not have fever or other COVID-19 symptoms they may report to work when their quarantine period is completed. If they develop fever (measured temperature > 100.4°F or subjective fever) OR COVID-19 symptoms they should immediately self-isolate (separate themselves from others) and fill out the symptom and exposure form so that Employee Health can coordinate consultation and referral for further evaluation if required. Employees will generally not be tested following a close contact exposure unless they develop symptoms unless required for contact tracing.  Employees with a close contact exposure may not return to work until completion of the self-quarantine period even if they have a negative test for COVID-19.
  • Work-related COVID-19 Exposure: When an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, contact tracers will speak with the employee to identify close contact exposures at work. These exposed employees will be notified and managed just like any other close contact exposure. Employees are encouraged to use the GuideSafe™ Exposure Notification App.
  • Symptomatic Employees:  Employees who develop even mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must cease working, don a facemask if not already wearing one, and notify their supervisor prior to leaving work. Symptoms should be reported using Healthcheck and the employee may not return to work until cleared by Employee Health. Employees who have NOT had a close contact exposure and test negative for COVID-19 may be returned to work after symptom resolution at the discretion of Employee Health.
  • COVID Positive Employees: Employees who test positive through Employee Health will be notified by one of the Employee Health physicians of the positive test result with a phone call.  Employee Health will also send an email to the employee and their supervisor with details regarding their work restrictions. The COVID-positive employee will be monitored by Employee Health nurses daily by phone call until discharge from surveillance and released to return to work. When cleared to return to work, the employee will receive an official return-to-work letter from Employee Health which they can then share with their supervisor. While we prefer for employees to test through UAB Employee Health, if an employee chooses to test elsewhere and receives a positive test result, that employee must notify Employee Health of their positive test result using Healthcheck.
  • Sentinel testing vs symptomatic testing: In addition to testing employees who have COVID-19 symptoms, UAB employees who have no symptoms of COVID-19 are invited and encouraged to participate in Sentinel Testing. This is a different process than the one used for symptomatic employees. Employees who participate in Sentinel Testing may continue to work unless they become symptomatic, have a close contact exposure, or test positive for COVID-19.

ON THE JOB INJURY (OJI) CLAIM INSTRUCTIONS - If referred to UAB Urgent Care or another provider by Employee Health, the employee will need to provide documentation and file a claim for On the Job Injury (OJI). Claims will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The Health Care Provider will determine if further treatment is required. If this is a qualifying OJI event and further treatment is needed, contact the OJI Administrator. The UAB Human Resource web page provides further instructions if needed.

Additional information and frequently asked questions about COVID 19 employee health isolation and quarantine or non-healthcare provider employees is available here

Personal Safety Practices

Personal Protective Equipment:

Certain measures are needed to reduce the risk of exposure and the spread of COVID-19. Everyone on UAB's campus is required to wear a mask/face covering at all times when on campus except at a private workstation/private office that is in an enclosed space where no others are present. Study rooms and workstations in the libraries are public spaces and therefore require masks/face coverings.

Cloth masks/face coverings may be used to minimize the risks to others near you. You can spread COVID-19 to others even when you do not feel sick. Each employee will receive two face masks from your supervisor. N95 masks should be limited to first responders, health care providers, and employees working with materials that require N95 masks as part of their ordinary safety plan. See CDC guidelines for the use of cloth face coverings. Employees and students working in the healthcare environment should follow the PPE guidelines for their specific area.

Options for Masks and Face Coverings:

  • Cloth masks: Cloth masks/face coverings may be used to minimize the risks to others near you. Cloth face masks must be laundered each day. If you do not have one, a face-covering/mask may be obtained from your supervisor. See CDC guidelines for the use of cloth face coverings.
  • Disposable masks: These are acceptable but must be disposed of safely and properly in trash bins.

UAB-branded face masks are available for purchase through a number retail stores. Here are the current online shops and brick and mortar stores that sell the officially licensed UAB-branded masks you've been looking for. As the demand for face masks grows, you can expect to find more retail options added to the list.

How to Clean your Cloth Masks

Wash it with the rest of your laundry

Just use regular laundry detergent and the warmest water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

...or wash it by hand

Mix non-expired bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite with room-temperature water and soak the mask for five minutes.

Use these measurements

  • 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room-temperature water or
  • 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water

Rinse the mask thoroughly with cool or room-temperature water and pour the bleach solution down the drain.

Then dry the mask thoroughly.

Use the highest heat setting for the fabric and leave the mask in the dryer until completely dry, or lay flat, preferably in direct sunlight, and allow to air-dry completely.

Per Centers for Diseases Control guidelines.

Social Distancing:

Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slow its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are ill, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even when you have no symptoms. Students, faculty, and staff should follow these social distancing practices:

 
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart (about two arms’ lengths) at all times.
  • When in open spaces such as labs, hallways, lobbies, maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet apart.
  • All workstations should be oriented to a minimum of 6 feet apart in all directions.
  • If you work in a private office, keep your door closed.
  • Do not gather in groups that cannot comply with social distancing.
  • Stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Meetings should take place online instead of conference rooms. If you must meet in person, wipe down surfaces, chairs, and equipment after each use, and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Minimize the use of common break-rooms, coffee stations, or refrigerators to store food.
  • Rearrange furniture in common areas to maintain social distancing.
  • Do not bring children, visitors, guests, or pets to the workplace.
  • Minimize non-essential movement around campus. If duties require movement to other physical areas on campus, practice social distancing, and follow all health and safety guidelines for those locations.
  • Some activities may require personnel to work within the 6-foot social distancing guidelines. It is critical to keep those interactions to a minimum.

Handwashing and Hand Sanitizers:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers will be available at multiple locations in your building, and you should place a hand sanitizer in your workspace for easy access.

Gloves/Goggles/Face Shields:

The CDC indicates that gloves are not necessary for general use and do not replace good hand hygiene. Students, faculty, and staff do not need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus. Health care workers and clinical and research personnel should follow the PPE guidelines for their specific work area.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene:

If you are in an enclosed workspace/private office and you do not have a mask, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with a hand sanitizer.

Exposure Guidance in a Healthcare Setting

Clinical Student has contact with a positive patient within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes NOT during an aerosol-generating procedure Student
wearing no mask
Student
wearing cloth mask
Student
wearing surgical mask, no eye protection
Student
wearing surgical mask or N95 with eye protection, no gown
Student
wearing gown, gloves, eye protection and N95
Patient not masked Exposed Exposed Exposed Not exposed Not exposed
Patient in cloth or surgical mask Exposed Exposed Not exposed Not exposed Not exposed
Contact with a positive patient for any amount of time during an aerosol-generating procedure Exposed Exposed Exposed Exposed Not exposed

Facilities, Parking & Transportation Cleaning Info

UAB’s Environmental Services Specialists will be using the COVID-19 Prevention: Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols to ensure our campus is as clean and safe as possible.

View Signage and Assets

Building Services has enhanced its cleaning protocols for cleaning methods and frequency while using appropriate personal protective equipment. Workspaces and classrooms that should have the highest priority for cleaning and disinfection have been identified (e.g., door handles, railings, restrooms, break rooms). 

Wipe In Wipe Out:

clean common areas graphics Upon entering and leaving any room in which you have been working, you must wipe down all work areas with sanitizing wipes that will be provided. This includes classrooms, shared space, or equipment (e.g., copiers, printers, computers, keyboards, mouse, phone, equipment, coffee makers, desks and tables, light switches, doorknobs, etc.). We have large-scale disinfecting mist machines that we will use a couple of times a day in the classrooms. Students will clean their desk and workstation as you go in and clean it as you leave. Supplies will be provided to everyone with additional cleaning regimens in between.

 

As you come to campus, remember:

  • All UAB buildings remain on badge-access only.
  • You may not hold or prop open doors for any other person.
  • Usable building access points have been identified to reduce congestion during typical “rush hours” of the day.
  • Supervisors should schedule employee arrival and departures in intervals to reduce personal interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs/elevators, etc.
  • When parking in a lot or deck, be aware of those around you. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others when leaving or returning to your car.
  • Always wear a mask when on campus. Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands or sanitize as soon as you get to your destination.
  • Blazer Express riders are required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

 

On-going Cleaning:

Many of the custodial services you have seen in the past in public spaces will continue as normal, including:

  • Daily or more often cleaning of restrooms, lobbies and break rooms
  • Dusting and vacuuming
  • Glass cleaning
  • Emptying and relining trash and recycling receptacles

Extra Cleaning and Sanitization:

In addition to UAB’s standard cleaning, the Building Services department is using hospital-grade disinfectant products to sanitize frequently touched surfaces, such as:

  • Door handles
  • Elevator buttons
  • Light switches
  • Chair armrests
  • Handrails
  • Other areas

UAB is using disinfectant mist machines that increase the number of surfaces cleaned per hour and ensures hard-to-clean surfaces are disinfected.

Alternative Sanitation Materials:

Due to current limitations of prepackaged sanitizing wipes, Facilities is offering the following interim guidance until wipes can be sourced:

  • We encourage employees to be mindful of their work surfaces and to minimize touching those items that are touched by others whenever possible.
  • Soap and water continue to be one of the best ways to clean surfaces.
  • Paper towels or cloths with at least 70% alcohol can also be used to clean surfaces. Use with care as these materials are highly flammable.
    • Paper towels or cloths wetted with alcohol MUST be laid out to dry before being put into the trash. This is important because of the flammability of the material. Once dry, the paper towels can be tossed in the trash.
  • Do NOT use a bleach solution and paper towels, as this can react to other cleaning products our team uses.
  • Use good hand hygiene when touching all surfaces and using hand sanitizer before and after use.

Alternative Sanitation Materials

Cleaning in Specific Campus Scenarios:

Public Areas

Public areas will be cleaned 5 days per week.

  • Remove trash
  • Wipe down all touch points
  • Clean adjacent restrooms and monitoring throughout shifts
  • Disinfect waiting rooms and elevators
  • Clean entrances and glass
  • Disinfect with misting machine spray at least 2 times per week
  • Lounges/break rooms and conference rooms to be treated on continual basis

Classroom & Lecture Areas

Classrooms and lecture areas will be cleaned 5 days per week.

  • Remove trash
  • Vacuum at least 2 times per week
  • Disinfect desks, workstations and chairs
  • Disinfect using misting machines as possible

Labs

Labs will be cleaned 3 days per week.

  • Remove trash
  • Dust mopping
  • Damp mopping
  • Restock paper or soaps
  • Additional services, including use of disinfecting mist machine, available by request

Clinic Space

Clinic space will be cleaned 5 days per week.

  • Remove trash
  • Dust mopping
  • Damp mopping
  • Replenish soap and paper supplies
  • Disinfect all non-medical equipment touch points
  • Wipe counter tops/sinks, as requested
  • Additional services, including use of disinfecting mist machine, available by request

Non-Hospital Clinic Waiting Rooms

Non-hospital clinic waiting rooms will be cleaned 5 days per week.

  • Remove trash
  • Wipe down non-furniture touch points multiple times per day
  • Wipe down furniture touch points once per day. Additional cleaning of furniture touch points recommended to be performed by clinic staff several times daily.
  • Cleaning adjacent restrooms twice per day and monitoring throughout shifts
  • Vacuum/damp mop
  • Clean entrances and glass
  • Disinfect with misting machine spray at least 2 times per week

Stairwells

Stairwells will be cleaned 5 days per week.

  • Dust mopping
  • Wipe down touch points
  • High dusting, where possible

Corridors

Main corridors will be cleaned 5 days a week.

  • Dust mopping
  • Spot damp mopping
  • Wipe down touch points
  • High dusting, where possible

Private Offices

As students and employees re-enter campus, private office spaces will need to be cleaned by the user(s). To allow for the time spent disinfecting in public areas, less time will be spent cleaning private office spaces. Other than a monthly vacuuming, Environmental Services Specialists will only be working in private office spaces when a specific work order is called into 4-WORK (205-934-9675) or submitted through our online system.

After the form is completed, our EVS team will complete the work as a non-emergency work order. UAB Facilities will continue to respond and address emergency issues as in the past. The time saved not servicing private offices will enable Building Services to provide the safest, virus free environment possible. If you have any questions about your specific area, please call 4-WORK (205-934-9675) and ask to speak with a manager.

Shared Spaces

Protocols and practices for shared spaces, such as break rooms and kitchens, include: 

  • Common kitchen or eating areas will remain open.
  • Shared appliances can be used under these conditions: ice machines must be automated to serve the ice; no “scoops” allowed for self-serve. If a unit is unable to retro-fit the current machines, those will need to be disabled.
    • Discontinue use of water fountains except to dispense water to containers via a touchless process.
    • Refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers and other appliances are allowed with the expectations that each user is expected to disinfect after each use with the provided disinfectant wipes.
  • Spaces must be controlled to facilitate safety and social distancing, such as the number of chairs in a space, disinfectant wipes, sanitizer, etc.  
  • Masks will be required except while eating. 
  • Staff can enter the shared space long enough to complete short tasks and then must exit. In addition, only one person should eat in a shared space at one time.
  • Shared food or “pot luck” should be highly discouraged. For example, bringing in a box of donuts or baking a cake for all. 

Blazer Express

Enhanced cleaning procedures have been instituted on Blazer Express vehicles to protect the safety of all riders and drivers. Riders are required to wear a mask while riding in Blazer Express vehicles and maintain social distancing. View current routes.

How You Can Help

  • Place smaller waste receptacles in the corridor outside your office for it to be emptied and relined
  • Utilize larger office waste receptacles for food waste and wet trash to control odors
  • Use provided cleaners to sanitize office space (i.e., keyboards, desk space, doorknobs, phones, etc.)

Mental & Emotional Well-being

If you are experiencing a crisis, call 911, call the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255), call the Birmingham Crisis Line at 205-323-7777, or text “UAB” to 741741 to text with a crisis counselor.

Disease outbreaks such as the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can bring stress and increased levels of fear and anxiety. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created this resource related to mental health and coping during COVID-19.

The Employee Assistance Counseling Center (EACC) is available to offer emotional support to faculty and staff and has increased available services during this stressful period. If you are experiencing a crisis, call 911, call the Birmingham Crisis Line at 205-323-7777 or text “UAB” to 741-741 to text with a crisis counselor.

Children; people who have preexisting mental health conditions, including problems with substance use; and people who are helping with the response to COVID-19, including doctors and other health care providers, may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis. People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.

Reactions to pandemic stress include fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. Here are some signs of distress:

  • Increased anxiety, worry, fear, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Depressive symptoms that persist and/or intensify.
  • Inability to focus or concentrate accompanied by decreased work performance.
  • A feeling of hopelessness and/or a paralyzing fear about the future.
  • Sudden anger and disruptive behaviors or noticeable changes in personality.
  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Isolating or withdrawing from others, fear of going into public situations.
  • Unhealthy coping (e.g., increased alcohol or drug use, engaging in risky/impulsive behaviors).

 

People can cope with stress and support themselves by:

  • Acknowledge reactions. Allow yourself time to reflect on what you are feeling and how you may be reacting to any fears and uncertainties of the future.
  • Maintain your day-to-day normal activities and social outlets as it follows guidance from the CDC, particularly when it comes to social distancing. Resist withdrawing and isolating yourself from the support and caring that others can provide.
  • Seek accurate information from the CDC and limit exposure to social media and news reports that provide no new information.
  • Pay attention to positive news instead of only focusing on negative and fear-producing reports.
  • Follow the protection and prevention tips given by medical professionals, national medical authorities, and your own medical doctor.
  • Practice calming rituals:
    • Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening. 
    • Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness exercises can help. 
  • Download the myStrength app. Call or email the UAB Employee Assistance Counseling Center for your access code. The app is free and confidential for UAB employees.
  • Take care of your body by getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep, eat healthy meals, take deep breaths, and stretch. Meditation may also help.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Take breaks from the news, make time to unwind, and do activities you normally enjoy.
  • Maintain positive thinking.
  • Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other and know when and how to seek help.