Federal agencies Public administration Workplace exposures

OMB issues guidance on Executive Order aimed at protecting federal workers from COVID-19

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Photo: Jane Terry

Washington — The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued a guidance memo to support federal agencies in their effort to “develop tailored COVID-19 workplace safety plans,” as required under an Executive Order signed Jan. 20 by President Joe Biden.

As an initial step in the implementation of the EO, titled Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing, OMB, along with the Safer Federal Workforce task force, is providing “model principles,” or a starting point, for federal workplaces, which include:

  • Allowing employees to work remotely when possible.
  • Requiring the use of masks or facial coverings by employees, contractors and visitors.
  • Limiting office capacity to 25%, unless it’s “physically impossible” or “poses a threat to national security.”

Other mitigation strategies covered in the memo include testing, contact tracing, symptom monitoring, travel, environmental cleaning, ventilation and air filtration, staggered work times, and shared spaces.

By Jan. 26, each agency should establish a COVID-19 coordination team that includes representatives with expertise in occupational safety and health as well as public health. If an agency has no such experts, the Safer Federal Workforce task force will designate a delegate.

“Of paramount concern is the health and safety of all federal employees and contractors and their families, and the administration is committed to taking a safe, cautious, iterative, data-driven approach,” the memo states.

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