6. Protecting Employee Health and Safety

The Office of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) determines countermeasures for COOP teams, public safety personnel on DOI and Tribal lands, personnel needed to support the NRP ESF requirements, operators of critical infrastructure (such as water and hydropower), personnel involved in wildlife surveillance and response activities, and for personnel at Indian Education facilities.

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6.1 Scope and Purpose

This section sets forth the policy and guidance to execute the Department's responsibilities in protecting employees from contracting pandemic disease at the workplace. DOI is committed to ensuring all employees maintain the appropriate health and safety practices to minimize the risk of acquiring pandemic influenza at the workplace.

The information provided in this section applies to all Bureaus and Offices.

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6.2 Office of Occupational Health and Safety Responsibilities

Specific coordination activities of the Office of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) responsibilities include:

  • Establishing a working group composed of representatives designated by Bureau Safety Managers to meet weekly once the pandemic reaches FGRS 2 (confirmed human outbreak overseas).
  • Establishing points of contact with other Departments to receive up-to-date information prior to and during a pandemic. Maintaining situational awareness on the status of human infections within the United States and providing current public health messages (consistent with HHS/ESF-8) as the pandemic progresses including travel restriction information.
  • Coordinating with HHS/ESF-8 on current status of supplies of vaccination and anti-viral medication and plans for dissemination.
  • Providing safety and health support to DOI assets for the various ESF components.
  • Using the DOI Safety Management Information System (SMIS) module for management of data on work-related disease outbreaks including all confidentiality of employees' reporting information consistent with existing laws.

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6.3 Bureau and Office Responsibilities

Bureau and Office responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring sufficient and available infection control supplies are provided at each facility. The deployment of infection control measures requires the ready availability of soap and water, hand sanitizer, tissues and waste receptacles, environmental cleaning supplies for the duration of a pandemic.
  • Establishing methods for communicating safety and health information to employees, volunteers, and visitors within the Bureaus. Developing and disseminating programs and materials covering pandemic fundamentals (e.g., signs and symptoms of influenza, modes of transmission), personal and family protection and response strategies (e.g., hand hygiene, coughing/sneezing etiquette, contingency plans), and encouraging employees to receive their annual influenza vaccination.
  • Identifying local information sources (local community public health, emergency management, and other sources), in the specific area of the DOI facility, for timely and accurate pandemic status information, as well as impacts of pandemic on the community (for example, as a result of social distancing and community mitigation measures, school closures and affects on mass transportation).
  • Developing protocols for responding to employees exhibiting influenza symptoms while at work and others who were in contact with a suspected case in accordance with Appendix F, and establishing a mechanism for medical verification to return to work in accordance with the Fitness for Duty policy (listed in Appendix I).
  • Implementing international and domestic travel restrictions in accordance with HHS recommendations. Travel restriction information and recommendations are available at: www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/index.htm and www.travel.state.gov.
  • Identifying high risk and mission critical employees and develop safe work practices and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements for specific tasks in accordance with Appendix F - H and regularly updating risk assessments or job hazard analyses where necessary.
  • Evaluating employee access and availability to health care services in remote DOI facility locations during a pandemic, and improve services as needed.
  • In accordance with guidance from HHS/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developing methods for prioritizing and distributing vaccine and anti-viral medication.
  • Implementing guidelines on social distancing and teleworking to modify frequency and type of face-to-face contact (e.g., hand-shaking, seating in meetings, office layout, shared workstation) among employees and between employees and visitors during Federal Government Response Stage (FGRS) 4 in accordance with Appendix F.
  • Reviewing employee assistance program resources and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) resources to ensure Bureaus and Offices are equipped to address psychological needs of employees during and after a pandemic.

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