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A gradual and safe restart plan for CERN’s on-site activities

Restart plan for CERN’s on-site activities after the safe mode
(Image: CERN)

The CERN Director-General and Directorate presented the restart plan for on-site activities during an online meeting. Some 4100 people connected to the live webcast, during which 270 questions were submitted live, in addition to the 150 collected prior to the meeting.

CERN has been in safe mode since 20 March, with the majority of personnel working remotely. During this period, a maximum of about 600 people have come to CERN each day to ensure the safe maintenance of the sites and facilities. The rest of the CERN community has been making extensive use of teleworking tools, with a peak of almost 13 900 connections per day to the Vidyo remote conferencing tool.

On-site activities will resume gradually as of 18 May. “We have developed a preliminary plan for the gradual and safe restart of the activities and for bringing personnel back to work on the sites,” said Fabiola Gianotti, who emphasised the importance of individual responsibility in respecting the health and safety measures as a means to protect people’s health and achieve a successful restart.

Here is a summary of the plan that was laid out during the presentation, in the form of ten questions and answers. This plan will be re-evaluated as the COVID-19 situation evolves at CERN, in our Host States and beyond.

  • What is the schedule for the restart of on-site activities?

The planned restart is divided into three phases. During phase 0, which will run until 18 May, safe mode is being maintained, with a maximum of 600 people per day allowed on the CERN sites. During this period, teams are preparing the restart plan by scheduling the priority activities and identifying the specific people needed on site. During phase 1, starting on 18 May, priority activities will resume gradually, starting with LS2 activities, accelerator and detector upgrades and urgent site and building work. Phase 1 is estimated to last 16 weeks, with up to an additional 500 people per week allowed on the CERN sites. The final stage, Phase 2, is planned to start from mid-September and will hopefully see the removal of all restrictions on the number of people on the sites. The plan, the progression of the phases and the precise number of people on the sites will be reviewed weekly by the Enlarged Directorate.

  • Which activities will be resumed first?

The first priority is to restart the LS2 activities, accelerator and detector upgrades and urgent site and building work. There are still some 2000 tasks in the accelerator sector to be completed in LS2, two-thirds of which relate to the LHC. A special LS2 committee meeting will be held on 8 May to determine which Phase 1 activities should be given priority. The LS2 and Run 3 schedules will be reviewed in June and, again, during a workshop in September.

  • How many people will work on the CERN sites?

Before the safe mode began, an average of 8000 people were on site each day, including CERN personnel and contractors. During safe mode, this number was reduced to 600. As of 18 May, an additional 500 people per week will be able to access the CERN sites, including members of the personnel and contractors, starting with those working on the above-mentioned priority activities. From mid-June, the rest of the personnel is expected to gradually come back to work.

  • What is the procedure for returning to the CERN sites?

Members of the personnel will be called back to the site by their supervisor. The request will include the days for which on-site access is granted. Presence on site will be limited to the time required to carry out approved activities. Contractors’ personnel will be allowed to come on site only at the request of their management, as agreed with the CERN technical officer in charge of the contract.

People over 65 should continue to work remotely. Their access may be exceptionally authorised by department heads or experiment spokespersons for activities considered to be essential for strategic or operational reasons. People under 65 with vulnerabilities should continue to work remotely and must inform their supervisor.

All members of personnel and contractors will have to pass a compulsory COVID-19 health and safety training course in order to access the CERN sites. This course will be available as from 12 May from the Learning Hub.

  • What are the hygiene measures in place on the CERN sites?

CERN has developed strict health and safety measures following guidelines from our Host States, and in some cases these measures are stricter than those in place in France and Switzerland. Detailed safety and hygiene measures can be found here. Doris Forkel-Wirth, Head of the Occupational Health & Safety and Environmental Protection Unit, emphasised that it is “the responsibility of each one of us to respect hygiene and safety measures, in order to protect each other”.

In summary, everyone on site must comply with these measures:

  • Respect the physical distance of two metres between individuals;
  • Respect basic hygiene measures, such as washing hands regularly;
  • Wear masks when indoors and when other people are present (shared workspaces) or may be encountered (public spaces). Wear masks outdoors if a physical distance of two metres cannot be respected;
  • Wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields or safety glasses, when the physical distance of two metres cannot be maintained in the tunnel and laboratories;
  • If sharing tools or workstations cannot be avoided, you will be required to clean them before and after use. Other measures may be put in place.

It is the responsibility of each person within the CERN community to read and apply carefully the safety and hygiene instructions which will be updated on the HSE webpage.

Enhanced cleaning of shared spaces, such as toilets and restaurants, will continue. Cleaning kits for offices will be distributed (for example, to clean workstations). Before resuming work in your office, you may send a ticket via the service desk to request a complete clean.

  • What other safety measures must be taken?

The COVID-19 safety measures are in addition to the usual safety measures! Do not forget your personal protective equipment, such as your helmet, safety shoes and dosimeter if required, in addition to your mask.

  • Who will provide the personal protective equipment?

Supervisors will distribute protective equipment and hygiene products (soap, sanitiser, cleaning materials, etc.) to their teams. On your first day back on site after lockdown, you will receive one or two masks at the entrance before you can access the safety equipment distribution point indicated by your supervisor. If possible, tools and workstations should not be shared, but increased cleaning and, if needed, additional PPE may be available for shared workstations or tools. Shared workstations and tools must be cleaned before and after use.

  • How should I commute to CERN?

The use of individual transport such as cars and bicycles is preferable. Bikes are available at the CERN mobility centre. If you have to use public transport, keep a physical distance of two metres and wear a mask. The CERN shuttles will operate, and masks will be mandatory for anyone boarding them. If CERN cars must be used, individual use is recommended. If this is not possible, a maximum of two people may share a CERN car and they must wear masks. In all cases, drivers must clean any area they have touched prior to and following the use of a CERN car.

  • Will the restaurants be open?

Distribution points for food will be organised in the restaurants and cafeterias, with a limited number of people allowed in the distribution zone. It will be possible to book meals in advance and to pay remotely via a dedicated app. The number of distribution points will be adapted to the number of people on site.

  • Are meetings and travel allowed?

Meetings must be held remotely, using video conferencing tools. If this is not possible, safety measures must be respected (distance of two metres between people, wearing of masks, etc.) and the identity of the participants must be recorded by the organiser. All duty travel on behalf of CERN remains suspended. Exceptional duty travel may be authorised by the relevant head of department if it is considered to be essential.   

The slides and recording of the information meeting are available on the Indico page.