Human Participant SRC Activities
As of September 15, 2022 Toronto Metropolitan University’s (formerly Ryerson’s) Safe SRC Human Participant Plan process has been suspended for in-person human participant SRC.
This includes all in-person recruitment of human participants, in-person data collection involving human participants for ongoing research, as well as studies involving human participants that have received Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. If you have questions regarding your REB approvals, please connect with the REB directly.
How this impacts your SRC activities:
- If you have a previously REB-approved Safe Human Participant Plan, you may proceed as you were without any additional requirements. If you plan on modifying any of the approved procedures under the approved plan, please submit an amendment of your study protocols to the REB.
- If you wish to move from virtual to in-person data collection activities for an existing REB-approved study protocol, please submit an amendment to the REB considering any additional safeguards and risk mitigation strategies in light of COVID-19 or any other relevant public health considerations.
- For new study protocols, please submit your application through the REB system considering any additional safeguards and risk mitigation strategies in light of COVID-19 or any other relevant public health considerations. This can be provided via a separate document or incorporated within Section 16 (Risks/Benefits) of the REB application form.
Note: Individuals working in affiliated research institutes and/or hospitals must follow the host location’s guideline and/or directives in addition to applicable health and safety requirements in this Guideline.
If a study team member or study participant has contracted COVID-19 following a study visit:
- Follow public health guidelines (external link, opens in new window) for cleaning and isolation based on the most up-to-date policies at the time.
- Submit an (PDF file) REB adverse events report within 48 hours if the researcher/study staff/participants have come into contact with anyone infected with COVID-19. The REB report should outline all directions received along with any/all mitigation strategies.
The OVPRI will continue to monitor the situation. Updates will be shared via OVPRInet and posted to the OVPRI COVID-19 webpage if any changes occur in our region.
As in-person data collection may require closer contact with community members, continued individual vigilance is critical in controlling the spread of COVID-19. We encourage all TMU researchers to:
- Stay home if they are ill.
- Be fully vaccinated and remain up-to-date with current public health vaccination recommendations.
- Continue to monitor their health for any symptoms and follow guidance from Toronto Public Health if you think you may have COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who does.
- Wear a properly fit mask or face covering while indoors.
- Maintain physical distance wherever feasible.
- Practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.
Researchers may refer to the following safety and risk mitigation strategies in developing their study protocols as appropriate.
Recommended Procedures for On-Campus SRC Activity with Human Participants
Restrict Study Visits to Essential Individuals
Essential individuals include legal guardians or others who must be present with the participant for health care, research-related decisions, or to provide support to the individual.
Limit Number of People Present in an Area at Any Given Time
- Create a schedule and use separate rooms for study visits.
- Clearly identify circulation paths to maintain 2-metre physical distancing.
- Minimize the use of waiting rooms.
- Establish a disinfection area for participants where they can obtain PPE (if required) and leave their belongings.
- Select locations with greater airflow and physical distancing feasibility.
- Use video conversations to limit face-to-face interactions.
- Employ virtual approaches to train personnel on study procedures.
Use a Schedule to Ensure Sufficient Time between Visits
- Ensure sufficient time between participant visits for proper sanitation of materials or equipment and turnover of air.
- Have a schedule for groups sharing spaces to enable cleaning to be coordinated across groups and studies.
All study team members who will be present in the Toronto Metropolitan University lab space and/or who may come in contact with study participants are required to self-screen prior to coming to the lab each day.
Communicate with Participants
The research teams should communicate with participants before their study visit. Develop an informational sheet that can be provided to all participants outlining the following information:
- To ensure a safe environment, describe what measures are in place and what participants can expect when they come in for their visit. Describe any special procedures for participants (e.g., parking, building access/which entry to use or location changes).
- Instruct participants to bring water and food, if applicable.
- Advise participants that they should follow public health guidelines (external link, opens in new window) for safe practices when leaving their home.
- Inform participants of transportation options. A risk-based approach is recommended. Consider if participants can walk safely to the lab or other SRC data collection location, if they have their own transportation, or if they use ridesharing or a taxi.
Adapt Cultural Practices
If cultural practices are a part of the in-person protocol (such as smudging) for your SRC activity, work with the community to adapt the practice to allow for appropriate safety precautions while engaging in cultural practices.
Prepare the Study Visit Area
- Prepare the space before the participant arrives (e.g., propping open doors, calibrating all equipment, etc.).
- Designate experiment/data collection areas and areas for guardians/other visitors and their belongings.
- Clean and disinfect the entire study lab/visit space between each participant visit and after all visits are completed for the day (see the Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations section).
- Have PPE available for study participants, including face masks and hand sanitizer.
- Employ physical distancing practices as outlined below.
All essential personnel should review proper PPE use prior to interaction with participants and have completed all university training modules related to restarting SRC activity with human participants.
Study visits will be planned in such a way as to emphasize participant, staff and trainee safety and make sure that all participants feel comfortable. Early communication with participants should give them an overview of policies and practices, as well as give them the opportunity to ask questions so that they feel comfortable coming on-site.
Study-specific activities may require specific customizations to this plan, but the following principles will govern in-person human participant SRC activity:
- Maintain appropriate physical distancing whenever possible.
- Maintain the highest standard of cleanliness, including regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces, cleaning exam/procedure/study rooms between each participant, and good hand hygiene.
- Use appropriate PPE and follow screening procedures.
Best Practices When 2-Metre Physical Distancing Can Be Maintained
- Follow recommended physical distancing best practices.
- Designate an entrance and route of travel to limit participant access in buildings. If possible, designate a bathroom for participant use.
- Keep a daily record (electronic format preferred) of who is in the space.
- Study staff should be wearing PPE and have all materials, equipment and other items ready for the study visit.
- Screen all study participants and family members, caretakers, legal representatives, etc. before they enter the lab/building.
- Study staff should wash or sanitize their hands just before the study visit begins and throughout the study visit.
- Provide all study participants with PPE to wear during the visit in accordance with university guidelines.
- If and when possible, study staff should maintain 2-metre physical distancing from the participant. The use of plexiglass barrier(s) to separate study staff and the participant is encouraged. People should announce movements in the space to avoid accidental broaching of the 2-metre distance.
- If study protocol prevents safe distancing, additional PPE measures should be taken (e.g., a face mask, and/or a face shield or goggles). Ensure that PPE is being used by all for the duration of the study visit. If possible, have the study team member and participant face in opposite directions.
- Disinfect rooms between each participant. Regularly disinfect additional high-touch surfaces, including door handles and light switches.
Sample collection, handling and processing:
- Biological samples will be collected by study technicians, nurses and/or physicians, as appropriate.
- Biological samples collected during study visits will always be handled, processed, and/or shipped only by qualified team members with the highest regard for safety.
Best Practices When 2-Metre Physical Distancing Cannot Be Maintained
Restarting SRC activity where 2-metre physical distancing cannot be maintained requires thorough procedures to ensure the safety of both the participant and the researcher.
The following attempts to anticipate issues that may arise for in-person research where physical distancing is unlikely to be possible, but it cannot anticipate all scenarios:
- Research with children often requires careful attention to environmental controls. Ensure all toys or other shared objects used in your research are made of materials that can be cleaned and disinfected easily (e.g., avoid plush toys, porous materials, books). Carpets or floors where young children may sit or crawl should be covered with a cleanable (non-porous) mat that is disinfected or replaced after each use.
- Towels or other materials that may be required for use by participants (e.g., for an electroencephalogram/EEG) must be placed into a closed plastic bag until they are laundered (after each use).
- Sinks used for hair washing must be disinfected after each use, along with any shared bottles (single-use supplies are preferred).
- As a first-priority, reorganization of spaces to respect 2-metre physical distancing between all members of the research team and all participants should be considered.
- Minimize the duration of live interaction by prioritizing remote communication.
- All research that involves physical contact with participants requires PPE.
- Ensure that all research staff, students and participants are provided with necessary PPE and training as to its proper use (e.g., procedure masks and protective eyewear).
- Before putting on a mask and other PPE such as gloves, safety glasses/visor (and after its removal), research staff should wash their hands according to best practices.
- When working with equipment, research staff should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or with alcohol hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds before commencing work and when they have finished.
- Research staff should keep a container of hand sanitizer with them for intermittent sanitization when soap and water are not available.
- Don single use gloves only when you begin close interaction with a participant if the interaction requires touching. Discard them immediately after use. Hands must be washed immediately before donning and immediately after the removal and safe disposal of gloves.
- Research staff should be careful not to touch personal items (e.g., phones) while wearing gloves. If touching a personal item is necessary, the personal item must be cleaned.
- Do not cross-contaminate surfaces and working areas – when you move from one area to another, when a touch-area changes, wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect study lab/visit space and surfaces. This may include tables, chairs, equipment such as EEG machines, VR headsets, wearable systems, and other non-disposable equipment or items used during the study visit. Space used for study visits should be cleaned and disinfected between each participant study visit and after all visits are completed for the day.
- Ensure that stock of PPE is replenished. This may include face masks, hand sanitizer, disposable wipes, etc.
There are a number of guidelines to be aware of when performing routine and more frequent cleaning:
- Review our Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations and TMU’s Employee Cleaning Guidelines.
- Use disinfectant to clean common areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, phones) more frequently, and use disposable cleaning materials such as paper towels.
- Follow the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines for hard surface disinfectants (external link, opens in new window) to be used for COVID-19.
- 10% bleach in water is an approved disinfectant.
- Although 70% ethanol is not recommended for all surfaces, it may be appropriate for electronics and other delicate surfaces.
- Never mix cleaning chemicals together, especially with bleach.
- Remember to properly label cleaning supplies and use and store them accordingly.
Additional Cleaning Considerations
- Locations and equipment with a high frequency of handling and contact represent a higher probability of viral loading in the work area and should be considered as part of more frequent cleaning.
- Common surfaces and equipment should be wiped down at the beginning of use and before the end of use, or before use by another individual.
Before returning to work, principal investigators and facility managers should identify high-touch locations and equipment specific to each space. Examples include:
- Equipment handles, latches, controls and touchpads
- Drawer and cabinet handles
- Bin and water incubator lids
- Hand tools and other shared tools
- Faucet handles and sprayer grips
- Baskets, bins, trays, etc.
- Exteriors of shared chemical bottles and caps
- Chair backs and armrests
- Pens, whiteboard markers, recording devices, etc.
Facility Procedures for On-Campus SRC Activity
Whether working alone in isolation or with others in a lab or other facilities, you must continue to be aware of the recommendations outlined by Health Canada (external link, opens in new window) , the Ontario Ministry of Health (external link, opens in new window) , and Toronto Public Health (external link, opens in new window) .
Research personnel are encouraged to review the (google doc) Working Alone or in Isolation Program (external link, opens in new window) Overview if they will be on campus during the essential services period.
While working alone or in isolation is not always hazardous, some activities and tasks may present risks when performed alone due to the nature of the work.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected.
It is important that when working in research labs and SRC facilities you adhere to the schedule to access SRC facilities, shared pieces of equipment or infrastructure.
- Maintain a distance of two (2) metres / six (6) feet between you and another person.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Keep surfaces clean and disinfected.
- If you are not feeling well, please do not go into the lab. Refer to Toronto Metropolitan University's COVID-19 resource page for additional information.
Please review your laboratory safety resources available on the Facilities Management and Development website.
Please ensure your emergency contact information submitted to your department Chair or designate is up to date.
In the event of a major chemical spill, contact the Facilities Help Desk at email@example.com or 416-979-5091 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. They will coordinate response efforts with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
Outside of hours, contact Toronto Metropolitan University Security at 416-979-5040. In the case of an emergency, call 911.
Researchers and Principal Investigators (PIs) are asked to re-familiarize themselves with:
- The (google doc) Chemical Safety Manual (external link, opens in new window) , specifically Section 16, on how to respond to minor spills.
- The locations of their spill kits and eye wash/shower stations.
- Accessing safety data sheets.
- Procedures for incident reporting.
We ask all researchers and PIs to review these procedures with their graduate students as the available staff on campus will be limited.
The Facilities Help Desk will be available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Please contact the Facilities Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-979-5091.
A maintenance and operations on-call supervisor will be available for urgent after-hours concerns and may be reached by contacting Toronto Metropolitan University Security at 416-979-5040.
Shipping and receiving activities are between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
If you are expecting a delivery, we suggest you advise Shipping and Receiving and arrange for delivery or pickup. Shipping, receiving and mail service requests can be sent to email@example.com. For immediate assistance, please contact the Shipping & Receiving Help Desk at 416-979-5000 ext. 7021.
For any questions about Facilities operations or if you require assistance, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-979-5091.
We recommend using a Toronto Metropolitan University Purchasing Card (P-card) for payment whenever possible while the university is operating essential services only. For additional information please visit the Financial Services Purchasing and Payment webpage.
Please continue to use the online Chemical Waste Disposal Request Form (opens in new window) to help schedule pickups.
Researchers working with biohazardous materials are asked to email Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at email@example.com when they have placed biohazardous waste in the biohazardous waste disposal room on the second floor of Kerr Hall.
If you will be absent from your lab for an extended period, please purge your hazardous waste and schedule a pickup (see above).
Please ensure you have access to the biohazardous waste room in Kerr Hall. If not, please coordinate with Toronto Metropolitan University Security at 416-979-5040 to gain access.
- Contact Toronto Metropolitan University's purchasing team if you require support to purchase PPE supplies.
- (google sheet) Toronto Metropolitan University EHS Risk Assessment Template (external link, opens in new window)
- Proper Use of a Face Mask (external link, opens in new window)
- (PDF file) REB Guidelines for Reporting Unanticipated and Adverse Issues
- Best practices for COVID-19 signage on campus
- (PDF file) Roles and Responsibilities: Approval Process for Safe Human Participant SRC Plans (with checklist)
- (word file) Research Ethics Board COVID-19 Consent Form Template