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Environmental Health and Safety

The following list of FAQs has been compiled by Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). For additional information and FAQs, please visit the university's Ready site.

Face coverings, masks, and respirators

The latest Virginia Tech mask guidelines can be found here.

Individuals should have a face covering that provides a good, comfortable fit on hand. Departments may be able to provide based on inventory. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a face covering in all Virginia Tech spaces. 

If employees feel they may need workplace accommodation because they are a member of a high-risk population, contact ADA and Accessibility Services at adaaccess@vt.edu.

These personal protective equipment (PPE) items continue to be in short supply. We can do our part to control COVID-19 by using face coverings so the limited supply of respiratory PPE can be provided to those who most need it in health care settings or where required for research or other work.

Yes, face coverings may be reusable or homemade cloth masks, dust masks, or surgical masks. Coverings that fit close to the face with no loose edges are the safest choice to use in labs/research spaces, shops, and similar spaces. Homemade and cloth face coverings should have several layers of fabric for added filtration.

Please click here for EHS guidelines around the use of face coverings, masks, and respirators.

Hand washing, hand sanitizer, passenger vehicle guidance

Click here to learn about the centralized PPE distribution process. Departments should obtain supplies through their normal purchasing channels. Specific questions can be directed to procurement@vt.edu.

To mitigate the potential for contamination of high touch points, over 1,400 hand sanitizer dispensers are positioned at building entrances, exits, elevators, and classrooms across the Blacksburg campus. 

In place of hand sanitizer, wash your hands at a sink with soap and warm water or at a handwashing sink in the lab for at least 20 seconds, whenever possible. Hand sanitizer should be used only in places where there is no sink available. Refer to these hand washing guidelines from the CDC for additional information.

Wash your hands at a sink with soap and warm water or at a handwashing sink in the lab for at least 20 seconds, whenever possible. Hand sanitizer should be used only in places where there is no sink available. Please refer to this 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. 

Hand washing printable downloads:

 

Please speak with your supervisor about purchasing appropriate disinfectants and consult this notice on centralized PPE distribution from August 2021. Departments should obtain supplies through their normal purchasing channels. Specific questions can be directed to procurement@vt.edu or the IBCP director at ibc@vt.edu

COVID-19 vehicle occupancy - seating

  • When there are two or more passengers, vehicle occupants are encouraged to wear a face covering at all times while in the vehicle.
  • In passenger cars, no more than two riders is recommended (driver and one person in the rear).
  • In any vehicle, no one should sit directly behind anyone or in the same row, but rather sit diagonally to maximize physical distancing.
  • Please refer to the illustration below for a variety of passenger van configurations.
  • Each traveler should be assigned a specific seat. Maintaining the same driver and passenger seat assignments will decrease the need for cleaning.
  • Alternate seating positions will help maximize physical distance between vehicle occupants with a maximum of one person per row; for instance, a 4-door vehicle with two rows of seating (sedan or 5-to-6 passenger SUV) can have one driver and one passenger.

The following guidelines are recommended to minimize the potential for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 while traveling within a vehicle with a group or other individuals

  • The driver of the vehicle is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces inside and outside the vehicle. 
  • High-touch surfaces include exterior and interior door handles and grips, interior door and window controls, arm rests, safety belts, cup holders, glove/storage compartment latches, air vents, gear shift, center console (climate/audio controls), steering wheel, visors, and rear view mirror.
  • Clean surfaces before and after use and when occupants change position.
  • Maximize the movement of air within the passenger compartment of the vehicle using a combination of the vehicle's climate control system and windows so that each passenger is in the vehicle is supplied with fresh, un-recirculated air.

Recommended seating for a 15-passenger van

  • Follow all recommendations listed above.
  • One person per seat and alternating sides.
  • Researchers participating in field work should be assigned to a specific travel group and remain in that travel group for the duration of the work season/semester, to minimize potential transmission to others participating in the same field research project.
  • When fueling the vehicle wear disposable gloves to minimize contact with high touch surfaces. Use pay at the pump options if available.
diagonal seat diagram within passenger van

Research, laboratories

Equipment and surfaces should be disinfected before and after use with a CDC-recommended disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. These include products that include 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, at least 70 percent alcohol or 1-5 percent bleach diluted in water. Lab workers/researchers should disinfect surfaces and equipment before and after use. Please refer to these Laboratory Disinfection Guidelines.

Click here for EHS COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures for On-Site Laboratories.

In addition to routine environmental cleaning EHS recommends disinfection of commonly touched areas (e.g., freezer doors, fume hood sashes, bottles and jars, cabinet handles, doorknobs, sink handles, and telephones) with effective disinfectants.

Contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 if you have additional questions regarding the appropriate disinfectants.

Please refer to the Research Information on the Ready site for the latest guidance.

Specific questions may be shared with EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 so your inquiry may be directed to the appropriate staff member for response. 

Please speak with your supervisor about purchasing appropriate disinfectants. Departments should obtain supplies through their normal purchasing channels. Specific questions can be directed to procurement@vt.edu or the IBCP director at ibc@vt.edu. Additional information can be found in this campus notice

Biosafety cabinets are required to be certified on an annual basis. As of March 24, 2020, certification vendors are still providing services following all CDC recommendations. If you wish to delay certification, please reschedule your certification date with the vendor. As long as the unit is still functioning appropriately and there are no immediate operational concerns, you may wait to have the unit certified. Please contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 with additional questions.

Please refer to the Virginia Tech Employee FAQs for more information.

Visit the Research Information content on the Ready site for more information.

Visit the Research Information content on the Ready site for more information.

If you receive a report from an employee of suspected exposure or a diagnosis of COVID-19, please report this to OVPRI-HR at 540-819-2324 or sburks@vt.edu and also contact reportacase@vt.edu or 540-231-8733 to connect with the EHS Case Management Team. The COVID-19 Supervisor Quick Reference also provides helpful details on the topic.

The employee should stay home and not report to the lab. Contact reportacase@vt.edu or 540-231-8733 to connect with the EHS Case Management Team so they can provide next steps. The COVID-19 Supervisor Quick Reference also provides helpful details on the topic.

More information around the centralized distribution of PPE can be found here.Departments should obtain supplies through their normal purchasing channels. Specific questions can be directed to procurement@vt.edu or the IBCP director at ibc@vt.edu

Please visit https://ready.vt.edu/research.html for the latest guidance.

Please visit https://ready.vt.edu/research.html for the latest guidance.

Additional questions, resources

Please contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 so your inquiry may be directed to the appropriate staff member for response.

When possible, in-person EHS training classes will either be hosted on Zoom or postponed. Registrants will hear from EHS. Registrants may contact cuporter@vt.edu with any training questions.

Yes. Please submit requests through the ReadyRequest portal at https://request.hokieserv.vt.edu/.