How To Implement A Remote Buddy System

Given the unique challenges that the research community is facing to ensure continuity of essential operations while also practicing social distancing, EH&S is providing the following guidance for implementing a remote buddy system for activities that have been determined to be low risk (i.e., low probability of occurrence and low severity consequences in the event of a negative outcome).  Please note that it is preferable from a safety standpoint to have two people present in the lab while maintaining social distancing requirements during operations whenever this is possible.

Examples of low risk operations include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring the temperature of refrigerators and freezers
  • Filling a small dewar with an inert cryogenic liquid while using appropriate technique and personal protective equipment
  • Changing inert gas cylinders on equipment

When low risk operations must be conducted by only one individual, someone outside of the lab needs to be able to monitor the individual in the lab to ensure they are safe and that help can be provided in the event that the individual cannot call for help on their own.  Acceptable methods of monitoring include, but are not limited to:

  • Checking-In: Let someone know when you will be in the lab and for what duration.  Check-in with the person via text, phone, or other means (apps and group communication tools) when the time period has ended to ensure the individual is safe.  For operations that require extended time in the lab, check-in in 15 minute intervals.  If it is possible to coordinate essential operation activities in neighboring labs, consider physical check-ins (while ensuring appropriate social distancing is maintained).
  • Video monitoring: Use cameras to monitor the individual in the lab.  Laptops, phones, and tablets equipped with Zoom or Facetime are good options.

If you have questions about buddy systems or what types of activities a buddy system is appropriate for, please contact Kristi Ohr (kohr@umass.edu).