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The Department of Commerce Workplace Safety Plan

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the health, safety, and well-being of our employees is and continues to be the top priority of the Department of Commerce (DOC). It is the primary driver for all decisions across our facilities as we continue to implement, standardize, and enhance health and safety protocols to effectively carry out the mission of the Department while preventing further contraction and spread of the virus.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the DOC immediately and thoughtfully implemented a measured and managed approach focused on employee health and safety. The DOC’s strategic operational decisions have been and will continue to be informed by public health best practices and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to protect the health of its employees while ensuring the continuity of Mission Critical work across its 13 Bureaus. The DOC continues to make significant strides and provide overarching guidance and policies to its Bureaus through the implementation of President Biden’s Executive Order, Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing, in all areas of COVID-19 workplace safety and supports the implementation of COVID-19 guidelines for their offices and facilities. For example, the DOC developed and implemented numerous policies and initiatives including:

  • Successful transition to maximum telework with minimal issues or disruption while continuing to achieve all mission objectives and maintaining 24/7 building operations
  • Effective mask policies mandating the consistent use of face masks and physical distancing as outlined by CDC guidance in all workspaces and supported by broadcast messaging and on-site signage
  • Formal establishment of the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team
  • Comprehensive implementation of a rigorous DOC-level approval process for any critical travel, meetings and conferences, and for visitor tracking
  • Consistent and timely COVID-19 communications throughout the DOC and its Bureaus
  • Critical data-driven processes to determine workforce re-entry and phased reopening across all Bureaus
  • Comprehensive Department phased reopening framework – Handbook for Reopening the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB) ­– documenting policies, procedures, and guidance related to pandemic health, safety, and workforce operations, and an accompanying HCHB reopening video illustrating changes in the workplace
  • Detailed Action Plan guiding supervisors through the process of working with employees who may be symptomatic or confirmed COVID-19 positive and establishing a notification and cleaning protocol consistent with CDC guidance
  • Extensive Bureau-specific health and safety protocols to limit disruption to Mission Critical activities
  • Consistent daily check-in call among Department of Commerce senior leaders to monitor State & Local outbreaks and to discuss any health and safety issues that threaten the DOC mission
  • Intensive review of the safety principles included in OMB’s Memorandum 21-15, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of the DOC workforce

As a result of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M-21-15, the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team developed an enhanced Workforce Safety Plan to build upon an extensive framework already in place. The DOC continues to maintain close coordination with its Bureaus for continued implementation of health and safety policies specific to their environment and in support of dispersed workforces, facilities, and operations. In addition to addressing Bureau and Office-specific safety challenges, the DOC ensures all employees, on-site contractors, and visitors are aware of the requirement to comply with CDC guidelines and have access to COVID-19 resources and information, as outlined in our Workforce Safety Plan Socialization Framework. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team regularly coordinates with the DOC to discuss and review Bureau-specific plans and policies to ensure they are aligned to CDC, OMB, and DOC guidelines.

Health and safety remain of critical importance to the DOC. We will continue to take a cautious and data-driven approach for a safe transition back to the workplace and will refine COVID-19 policies and processes as guidance from CDC and OMB evolves. For any questions related to the DOC Workplace Safety Plan outlined below, please contact the DOC’s COVID-19 Coordination Team Lead Zack Schwartz (zachary.henry.schwartz@census.gov).

The DOC Workplace Safety Plan

DOC Workplace Safety Plan Overview

The DOC remains committed to addressing essential COVID-19 work requirements consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order, Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing and the Office of Management and Budget Memorandum 21-15, COVID-19 Safe Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles; adheres to the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness; and includes the latest guidance from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This guidance also incorporates Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf.

The DOC Workforce Safety Plan includes:

  • Current Department-level and Bureau-specific policies
  • Future policy enhancements, implementation plans, and timelines
  • Communication strategy for employee, contractor, and visitor COVID-19 updates

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination team will continue to assess and refresh this plan over time as conditions warrant.

Goal

The goal of the DOC Workplace Safety Plan is to ensure the health and safety of the Federal workforce.

Updated Actions

The Department of Commerce has:

  1. Immediately required appropriate and consistent use of masks and physical distancing consistent with current CDC guidance for individuals in all Federal buildings.
  2. Reviewed the safety principles included in OMB Memorandum 21-15 and adapted as necessary to meet the needs of the DOC workforce.
  3. Formally established the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team.
  4. Started to identify and source supplies and services necessary to respond to the pandemic. The Office of Acquisition Management (OAM) facilitated sharing of resources and procurement strategies to overcome supply and procurement challenges. OAM provided specific information and guidance for procurement officials and purchase card holders including strategies for purchasing cleaning supplies and protective equipment as well as potential sources for acquiring those items.
  5. Made a commitment to continuously update this plan/implementation guidance as more information is available from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force and other Federal partners.

DOC Bureaus will:

  1. Ensure the alignment of their workplace safety plans to this plan/implementation guidance.
  2. Send confirmation to the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team that they have communicated their guidance to employees (i.e. mandating masks and maximum telework).
  3. Support the formulation of the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team
  4. Send any updates to their Bureau workplace safety plans to the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team Lead for clearance.
  5. Continue to report all COVID-19 data to the Emergency Operations Center and the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team.
  6. Confer with the Office of the Secretary to determine what if any significant actions need to be taken to address contractors following DOC and Federal guidelines on workplace safety (including COVID-19 workplace safety) and consider whether to modify the contracts to include such language.
  7. Ensure engagement with organized labor to confer and coordinate both with respect to the current operating status and with respect to return-to-office planning.

Health and Safety

Telework and Remote Work

The DOC successfully transitioned all employees to maximum telework with minimal issues and/or disruption. Employees/contractors should continue telework until further notified by Department and/or Bureau leadership. The DOC continues adherence to maximum telework as an effective workplace safety measure until further guidance from the CDC and OMB is issued. The DOC worked closely with the White House Coronavirus Task Force to protect the health and safety of the American public and DOC employees. On March 16, 2020, in accordance with policy guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), DOC directed all telework-ready DOC employees across the United States to telework until further notice. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team works with Bureau Human Resources (HR) Departments to evaluate activities that may require on-site work and assesses telework policies on an on-going monthly basis.

The DOC is awaiting further guidance from the CDC and OMB on comprehensive return to office guidelines, timelines, and requirements. In the event of a return to office or duty station activities, the employees will receive a minimum of 10 days of advance notice prior to requesting a return to in-person work, in line with the CDC guidance. Returning employees receive guidance from the DOC, in agreement with CDC guidelines, to ensure they are prepared to follow COVID-19 workplace safety policies to protect themselves and others in the workplace.

Bureau leaders evaluate activities, on an on-going basis, that may require on-site work and work with their HR and Labor and Employee Relations (LER) teams to confirm on-site work is required. In the near term, managers will enhance coordination with their HR, Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and LER team on communications to Bureau employees who are required to return on-site.

COVID-19 Coordination Team

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team is responsible for championing health protocols established by the CDC and reviewing pandemic-related data, guidelines, and workplace safety needs across the Bureaus on a regular basis. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team includes representatives from HR, occupational safety & health, executive leadership, the General Counsel Office, and public health experts.

The core members of the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team include:

  • Antwaun Griffin, Senior Advisor to the Secretary on COVID-19
  • Zack Schwartz, COVID-19 Coordination Team Lead
  • John Guenther, Associate Deputy General Counsel, Office of the General Counsel
  • Lisle Hannah, Director Office of Facilities and Environmental Quality (OFEQ)
  • Cara Westholm, Associate Director Office of Space and Building Management
  • Anthony J. Kesslak, Manager Occupational Safety, and Health at the HCHB
  • Denise Yaag, Acting Director Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM)
  • Paula Patrick, Deputy Director OHRM
  • Stewart Merritts, Director Occupational Safety and Health
  • Richard L. Townsend, Director for Security
  • CAPT Christian Rathke, NOAA’s U.S. Public Health Service
  • Cristina Bressler, Health Scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office of Safety, Security, and Asset Management (OSSAM)

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team also includes representation from all Bureaus including the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) Economic Development Administration (EDA), International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Technical Information Service (NTIS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Face Masks

Per DOC policy, personnel entering or working in Federal workspaces are required to wear face masks, covering both the nose and mouth, in accordance with CDC Considerations for Wearing Masks.  

The DOC reinforces face mask policies with on-site signage, as seen in the sample in Figure 1, working with Bureaus to ensure they have appropriate signage in place at all facilities. Employees/Contractors immediately report violations of this guidance to their supervisors. Informed by CDC guidelines and its own workplace health and safety research, the DOC requires face masks to be worn in any common areas or shared workspaces like:

  • Open floor plans/cubicles
  • Conference rooms
  • Restrooms
  • Corridors

In line with CDC recommendations, the DOC defines acceptable and unacceptable masks as follows:

Table 1: Acceptable and Unacceptable Face Masks

Acceptable

Unacceptable

Non-medical disposable masks

Scarfs or ski masks

Masks that fit properly (snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face)

Masks that do not fit properly (large gaps, too loose or too tight)

Masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton)

Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through (such as plastic or leather)

Masks made with tightly woven fabric

Masks made from loosely woven fabric or are knitted

Masks with two or three layers of fabric

Masks with one layer of fabric

Masks with inner filter pockets

Masks with exhalation valves or vents

 

Other types of face protection (e.g., face shields, novelty/non-protective masks)

Pursuant to CDC guidance on mask adaptations and alternatives, the DOC makes accommodations for individuals in the following situations with required documentation, if applicable:

  • People of any age with certain disabilities including cognitive, intellectual, developmental, sensory, and behavioral disorders
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who interact with people who are hearing impaired
  • People with certain underlying medical conditions

Employees/Contractors may only remove face masks when eating, drinking, when alone in a closed setting, such as a personal or enclosed office, or as required for identification. Personnel may be asked to lower their masks briefly for identification purposes in compliance with safety and security requirements. To ensure the DOC is in alignment with the latest health standards, it is prepared to adjust its policy related to face masks as necessary based upon additional guidance from CDC.

Masks do not provide the same level of protection as N95 respirators and should not replace personal protective equipment required or recommended at the workplace.

In terms of resource distribution, the DOC provides face masks to personnel and visitors. Where a mask exception is necessary to permit an employee to perform an essential function of their position, supervisors work with their Bureau’s Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator to ensure that an effort is made to identify alternative protections to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Testing

The DOC supports CDC recommendations for COVID-19 testing and vaccines and is committed to ongoing information-sharing related to these guidelines.

Pending guidance from OMB and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (required in the Executive Order), the DOC provides information and resources for virus testing in accordance with CDC information. In addition, the DOC works with public health officials to provide information pertaining to local testing centers and will promote personnel receiving the vaccine.

As CDC and OMB provide additional guidance, the DOC will evaluate the feasibility of collecting self-reported information related to workforce vaccination to further enhance workplace health and safety across its Bureaus.   

Contact Tracing

To facilitate more efficient and effective contact tracing coordination with local health departments, the DOC and Bureaus implemented a method for individuals to track daily movement and contacts.[1] In situations of potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases, impacted individuals receive communication regarding potential exposure. The DOC also uses a notification email template to request cleaning, identify travel paths, and address other concerns/questions at the HCHB. Additionally, in accordance with confidentiality policies, employee/contractor can expect continued protection of their personal privacy information. The DOC continues adherence to all Federal requirements to protect personal privacy information to the extent possible and consistent with our needs to implement this contact tracing program.

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team works with Bureaus, Offices, employees, contractors, and visitors to ensure any new cases are quickly identified, tracked, and disclosed to public health officials. (See Figure 2)

The DOC coordinates with its Bureaus to develop similar policies, aligned to CDC guidance on Case Investigation and Contact Tracing in Non-healthcare Workplaces. These policies include best practices for reviewing community contact tracing and highlighting the type of information Bureaus gather including, but not limited to, locations visited and potential employees working in the same workspace.

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team collaborates with and supports the contact tracing programs of local health departments to help identify, track, and manage contacts of COVID-19 cases. The DOC and its Bureaus are transparent and timely in communicating related information to the workforce, as relevant and appropriate, consistent with local and Federal privacy and confidentiality regulations and laws.

In the near term, the DOC, in coordination with its Bureaus, will explore opportunities to leverage applicable technology to centralize intake forms, streamlining and expediting the contact tracing process in the long-term.

Travel

Given currently high levels of transmission in the United States, official domestic travel is limited to only Mission Critical trips. Individuals identified with Mission Critical functions work with their supervisors to determine if domestic travel is in line with Mission Critical activities (e.g., equipment/systems inspection critical to safety, security, or agency’s mission). International travel is avoided when possible, unless it is Mission Critical. For example, international travel deemed Mission Critical includes activities surrounding COVID-19 response deployments/activities, diplomats traveling, high-level international negotiations that cannot occur remotely. Bureau heads may issue more specific guidance to account for the particulars of their mission while continuing to adhere to Department-wide policy by limiting official travel as much as possible. Additionally, the DOC limits mass transit options by offering temporary on-site parking tags and other parking accommodations, where available.

Personnel adhere strictly to CDC Travel During COVID-19 requirements before, during, and after travel, regardless of whether the travel is personal or for official business. At this time, these include the following precautions: carefully assessing travel risk prior to travel, wearing a mask during all portions of a trip, maintaining physical distance from non-household members, maintaining good hand hygiene by regularly washing hands with soap and water, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, and getting tested and staying home after higher-risk travel before returning to the workplace. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, employees/contractors continue to have telework and leave options when returning from personal or work-related travel. Employees may be required to stay at home for a period of time after official or personal travel. This includes allowing the employee to request personal leave when it results from personal travel, if an employee is otherwise expected to be present on-site before they are allowed to return to the workplace, as well as following any testing guidance if applicable. Private transportation, while on official travel, is preferred over the use of public or other communal transportation, in combination with other safety/security guidance.

The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team continues to enhance and socialize formal guidelines and policies for personnel returning from travel in accordance with CDC and OMB guidance, using available data on case numbers and high-risk areas, and in coordination with its Bureaus. These guidelines include, but are not limited to, length of stay-at-home period, available leave options, and a standardized process for notification. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team consistently reviews Bureau plans, including tailored travel policies and guidance, to ensure consistency with CDC and OMB guidance.

In the future, the DOC will evaluate the feasibility of leveraging dashboards and other data-driven tools to inform more targeted travel strategies. (See Figure 3)

Symptom Monitoring

For information on the DOC’s policies and procedures on communicating and escalating suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, please reference the Contact Tracing section.

Employees, on-site contractors, or visitors who are not feeling well must stay home and follow CDC guidelines for isolation and testing. The DOC and its Bureaus also post signage in and around their facilities and offices informing individuals entering Federal workspaces of COVID-19 signs and symptoms (see Figure 4). In accordance with CDC recommendations and OMB policies, personnel working on-site are required to regularly complete symptom screening (e.g., a symptom questionnaire, an exposure history questionnaire, a temperature check), on a daily basis or upon entry to the workplace. Bureaus use this information to assess the individual’s risk level and to determine whether they should be allowed entry to the workplace. Visitors must also complete symptom screening before entering a Federal facility. For more information on visitor policies, please reference the Visitors section.

To enhance symptom monitoring capabilities across the DOC’s many Bureaus, Offices, and facilities, the DOC continues coordination with its Bureaus to develop facility-specific entry guidelines (e.g., barrier/ partitional controls, virtual health-checks, staggered arrival) and appropriate signage, where applicable and in line with CDC guidance. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team regularly assesses Bureau facility-specific guidelines to ensure they are in accordance to CDC and OMB policies.

In the near term, the DOC continues to expand and provide resources such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and tools for Bureau supervisors to systematically report employees infected with COVID-19.

Quarantine and Isolation

Following CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation, employees:

  • Who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the past seven days should take steps to monitor their health, stay home, and quarantine
  • Who have been confirmed to have COVID-19 should stay home, monitor symptoms, and isolate

Confidentiality

Personnel medical information, including test results and any other information obtained as a result of testing and symptom monitoring, is treated as confidential in accordance with applicable law, and accessible only by those with a need to know in order to protect the health and safety of personnel. Accessibility of personnel medical information related to COVID-19 complies with the Privacy Act, Freedom of Information Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and other applicable laws. Medical information is collected and maintained in a manner consistent with the EEOC’s COVID-19 guidance and is generally “be treated as a confidential medical record.”

The DOC consistently evaluates its COVID-19 specific confidentiality policy to identify areas for additional enhancement, as necessary. These efforts are an extension of the DOC’s adherence to existing laws and policies with respect to the confidentiality and handling of personal medical data generally. Employees should contact the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team for any questions or issues related to privacy or confidentiality.

Workplace Operations

Occupancy

The DOC currently permits up to 25% occupancy rate with telework flexibility during Phase 1 of reopening. The DOC treats the 25% occupancy rate as a maximum, and facilities may further limit access based upon local factors, including but not limited to a spike in positive COVID-19 cases. The DOC calculates the occupancy rate using data collected via on-site badging processes and systems. As directed by OMB guidelines, any exceptions to this policy must be cleared by Bureau-specific leadership and the DOC’s COVID-19 Coordination Team, in consultation with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. The DOC awaits further instructions from OMB and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force regarding acceptable exceptions to occupancy limits.

Federal employees who must work on-site given the needs of their jobs can vary their work schedule within limits set by the Department and its Bureaus through the use of Flexible Work Schedules (FWS). For example, during the flexible hours, employees vary their arrival and departure times, hours worked each day, and days worked each week. The FWS options (including flexitour, gliding, variable day, variable week, and maxi-flex schedules, etc.) have different degrees of flexibility.

The DOC continues coordination with Bureaus to finalize procedures requesting exceptions to the occupancy policy across its facilities and workspaces based on Bureau return to office strategies.

Physical Distancing

Personnel requiring access to facilities or working in specialized spaces, such as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF), are required to social distance at least six feet from others, consistent with CDC Workplaces and Businesses guidelines. Expanding upon CDC social distancing recommendations, the DOC implemented additional administrative controls to limit conference room occupancy, prohibit physical contact, and require at least three chairs between individuals.

Personnel are required to practice social distancing, wipe down surfaces, wash hands frequently, eat at their own desk, and abstain from sharing food or utensils, in accordance with DOC policy and CDC recommendations.

The DOC developed Department-wide guidelines to facilitate increased physical distancing, aligned to CDC recommendations on office buildings. These guidelines include strategies for travel within facilities (e.g., designating “up” and “down” stairwells, encouraging stairwell use, floor markings for elevator lobbies, limits to the number of people in an elevator, etc.) and are published and communicated across DOC Bureaus via signage throughout facilities.

Environmental Cleaning     

For information on the DOC’s policies and procedures on communicating and escalating suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, please reference the Contact Tracing section.

Once alerted of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the workplace, the DOC follows Department-wide environmental cleaning protocols in accordance with CDC guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting by providing cleaning materials such as disinfectant spray and wipes and requiring personnel to wipe high-touch areas within their work areas, including but not limited to chairs, keyboards, desktop spaces, phones, and copiers/printers in shared areas.

Department-wide, the DOC continues to clean and disinfect its communal spaces, business centers, pantries, stairwells, suite door handles, conference rooms, lobbies, restrooms, and elevators daily. If a COVID-19 case is reported within a 7-day window, the DOC adheres to additional cleaning and disinfection protocols outlined by the CDC. (See Figure 5)

In the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace (if the individual had been in the building up to seven days prior), enhanced environmental cleaning is performed in accordance with CDC and GSA guidance. Individuals are asked to vacate the affected space until cleaning or disinfection is completed. The DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team, in consultation with the Office of the Secretary, determine the appropriate scope of workplace closures—in some cases, it may be a suite or offices or part of a floor, in other cases, it may include an entire building.

Hygiene

Individuals follow CDC guidelines for washing hands frequently, using sanitizer when needed, and wiping down phones and other high-touch surfaces in personal space.

In addition to signage posted in and around its workspaces, the DOC also supplies hand sanitizer dispensers with at least 60% ethanol at building entrances, workspaces, and in common areas, such as but not limited to breakrooms, conference spaces, and business centers.

Ventilation and Air Filtration

The DOC uses Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) light and enhanced filtering within the air handling units within the renovated portions of the HCHB in Washington, D.C. In the unrenovated portion of the HCHB, the DOC is installing UVGI within the air handlers and enhanced air exchanges of HVAC systems by increasing the flushing sequence; further, all air filters have been replaced.

To the maximum extent feasible, indoor ventilation is optimized to increase the proportion of outdoor ventilation, improve filtration, and reduce or eliminate recirculation.

The DOC continues advising its Bureaus and Offices on best practices for facility ventilation, consistent with CDC recommendations for Ventilation in Buildings.

Visitors

Visitors and deliveries to DOC facilities are restricted and only permitted entrance with approval by senior Bureau officials for Mission Critical functions only. Visitors are required to follow-self monitoring protocols and not to come on-site if exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Visitors to DOC Federal workspaces are required to adhere to and follow all COVID-19 policies and on-site signage.

To enhance existing protocols, the DOC continues coordination with Bureaus, where applicable, to standardize visitor approval guidelines and requirements for screening prior to entry.

Staggered Work Times and Cohort-Based Scheduling

The DOC is evaluating staggered arrival and departure times to reduce traffic volume in elevators and avoid crowds, helping minimize the risk of transmission to an individual or group, in coordination with its Bureaus.

At this time, the DOC does not anticipate changes from its maximum telework policy. In the event of changes to its telework policy, in line with CDC and OMB guidance, the DOC and its Bureaus will develop and communicate plans for phased work schedules to minimize contact, in the coming months. Plans include, but are not limited to, Bureau and facility-specific information like staggered shifts, start times, and break times for returning employees and in accordance with CDC recommendations. The DOC  coordinates with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to understand pay and leave implications surrounding staggered work schedules and other flexibilities.

Elevators

Individuals using elevators within Federal facilities are required to adhere to posted guidelines. In accordance with CDC guidance, the DOC places signage at all elevators within the HCHB to limit elevator passenger counts, reinforce the mask requirement within elevators and elevator lobbies, and daily cleaning protocols.

The DOC continues to advise Bureaus as they develop tailored policies to limit elevator passenger counts based upon facility specifications and workforce volume.

Shared Spaces

Shared spaces include elevators, hallways, stairwells, cafeterias or kitchens, restrooms, and other facility-specific shared spaces. Visual markers are installed to promote physical distancing within common spaces, and furniture may be removed. Steps are taken to limit the number of people who can use common spaces at any one time, and signage outlining these limits should be prominently displayed and reasonably accessible to all employees.

Employees follow hand-washing guidance (See Figure 6) before utilizing shared tools and equipment. Shared tools and equipment are disinfected by users anytime the equipment is used by or transferred to a new person. This includes phones, computers, shared printers, and other communication devices, kitchen utensils, and other office equipment. Refrigerators, water coolers, and coffee brewers with disposable cups (or a personal re-usable cup/container) and single serve condiments and creamers may be used with proper hand hygiene. Subject to the availability of appropriations and necessary expense justification, disinfectant wipes will be provided to the extent possible.

To follow social distancing guidelines, Bureau leadership can utilize the DOCs space planning services within the HCHB to minimize employee contact. In accordance with environmental cleaning policies, personnel wipe their own phones, keyboards, doorknobs, desks, etc. upon arrival with provided sanitizing wipes.

Timeline for Policy Updates

As outlined in the Workforce Safety Plan, the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team assesses and expands existing policies in coordination with its Bureaus, where applicable, to ensure compliance with the DOC’s Workforce Safety Plan, CDC recommendations, and OMB requirements.

Appendix

DOC COVID-19 Communications Plan

The COVID-19 crisis is not a single event, but rather a series of circumstances requiring constant communication as new information and policies emerge. To help ensure workplace health and safety, the DOC continues to provide proactive, transparent, timely, and iterative engagement with its employees, Bureaus, Offices, and Federal employee unions on policy enhancement and implementation.

To promote information sharing across its workforce and Bureaus, and effectively communicate changes to the Workforce Safety Plan the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team provides regular updates to employees through designated communication channels, as outlined in Table 2 below. In addition to established communication channels, moving forward, the DOC will also consider multi-media communication channels such as the use of videos and podcasts to share up-to-date information effectively and efficiently to its employees.

Table 2: DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team Communication Channels

Channel

Stakeholders

DOC Coronavirus Website

Employees, contractors, and visitors across DOC and its Bureaus, and the public

DOC COVID-19 Information for Commerce Employees

Department-specific employees and the public

All Broadcast Messages

Employees and contractors across DOC and its Bureaus

Virtual Townhalls

Employees and contractors across DOC and its Bureaus

The DOC Workplace Safety Plan Socialization Framework outlined below showcases potential messaging channels (e.g., All Hands Meetings, executive memos, newsletters, facility signage, posters, emails, etc.) and communications flow from CDC, OMB, and public health officials to the DOC, who work directly with the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team on information dissemination to its Bureaus.

 

Table 3. DOC COVID-19 Workforce Safety Plan Version Control

Version Number

Modifications Made

Date Modified

2.0

Updated and enhanced Workforce Safety Plan in line with OMB feedback and additional requirements

2/8/21

2.1

Updated Workforce Safety Plan, in line with OMB and GSA feedback

2/18/21

2.2

Finalized Workforce Safety Plan for publication

2/19/21

Download Workplace Safety Plan


[1] DOC: Handbook for Reopening, October 2020 & USCB: COVID-19 Action Plan

Bureaus and Offices