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Safety Standards and Checklist: Office Spaces

Reopening Phase III mandatory safety standards, recommended best practices and a checklist for office spaces. UPDATED: July 24, 2020

Table of Contents

Key Documents for Reopening

Linked below are three important documents for Phase III Step 1:

  1. Workplace Safety Standards - Complete and official sector-specific standards for reopening office spaces (all workplaces must also comply with the Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces)
  2. Protocol Summary - User friendly summary of the standards and best practices
  3. Checklist - Printable tool to help businesses perform the required self-certification for opening and ensure compliance with the sector-specific standards 

Social Distancing

Each office must monitor customer and worker entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to the greater of the following:

50% of the building’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder

Buildings for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow 10 persons (including staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible space

In any case, no enclosed space within the facility may exceed occupancy of 10 persons per 1,000 square feet

All occupancy counts and calculations shall include customers, staff, and other workers

Businesses and other organizations may exceed this maximum occupancy level based on a demonstrated need for relief based on public health or public safety considerations or where strict compliance may interfere with the continued delivery of critical services

Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals unless this creates a safety hazard due to the nature of the work or the configuration of the workspace

Close or reconfigure worker common spaces and high density areas where workers are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms, eating areas) to allow 6 feet of physical distancing; redesign work stations to ensure physical distancing (e.g., separate tables, use distance markers to assure spacing)

Cafeterias must practice physical distancing and appropriate hygiene measures and may allow indoor and /or outdoor seating according to Restaurant guidance

Physical partitions separating workstations must be installed for areas that cannot be spaced out. Physical partitions must be at least 6 feet in height

Establish directional hallways and passageways for foot traffic if possible, to minimize contact. Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies

Limit visitors where feasible, and avoid congregation in common areas (e.g., lobbies)

Mark rooms and hallways to indicate 6 feet separation

Stagger work schedules and improve ventilation for enclosed spaces where possible (e.g., open doors and windows)

Limit meeting sizes, ensure 6 feet of social distancing, and encourage remote participation

Stagger lunch and break times, regulating maximum number of people in one place and ensuring at least 6 feet of physical distancing

Minimize the use of confined spaces (e.g., elevators, control rooms, vehicles) by more than one individual at a time; all workers in such spaces at the same time are required to wear face coverings

Recommended best practices

Designate assigned working areas (e.g., floor, building) to individuals where possible to limit movement throughout the facility and limit contact between workers

Hygiene Protocols

Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, wherever possible and encourage frequent handwashing; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative

Supply workers at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

Post visible signage throughout the site to remind workers of the hygiene and safety protocols

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should be made available at entrances and throughout floor areas for workers

Require regular and not less than daily cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch areas such as workstations, door handles, and restrooms

Avoid sharing office materials / equipment or disinfect equipment between use (e.g., telephones, fax machines)

Staffing and Operations

Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:

Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings

Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks

Importance of not coming to work if ill

When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe

Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus

Facilities must screen workers at each shift by ensuring the following:

Worker is not experiencing any symptoms such as fever (100.0 and above) or chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle/body aches, runny nose/congestion, new loss of taste or smell, or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Worker has not had “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. “Close contact” means living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, or coming in direct contact with secretions (e.g., sharing utensils, being coughed on) from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, while that person was symptomatic

Worker has not been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by their doctor or a local public health official

Workers who fail to meet the above criteria must be sent home

Adjust workplace hours and shifts (leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry points

Maintain a log of workers and customers to support contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information) if needed

Workers must wear face coverings when social distancing of 6 feet is not possible, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability

Employers should establish adjusted workplace hours and shifts for workers (if working in-person, leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry points

Limit visitors and service providers on site; shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas

For guidance on business-sponsored travel, refer to the Commonwealth's current out-of-state travel order.  Employers are strongly discouraged from allowing business-related travel to destinations other than those appearing on the Department of Public Health’s list of COVID-19 lower risk States.  Employers that permit employer-paid or -reimbursed travel to those States should take measures to ensure employees comply with this order. Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to destinations not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk States.  

Workers must stay home if feeling ill

If the employer is notified of a positive case at the workplace, the employer shall notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located and assist the LBOH as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may be recommended consistent with guidance and / or at the request of the LBOH

Post notice to workers and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in the Commonwealth’s Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace

Offices should maintain operating hours that allow for on-going off-hour sanitation and cleaning

Allow water fountains to be used as refill stations only, provided that social distancing can be maintained. Workers should bring their own water bottles

Additional on-site amenities and services may only open and operate when those amenities or services would otherwise be authorized to operate under the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening Plan and then must adhere to all sector-specific safety protocols, available on the Reopening Plan website, applicable to the amenity or service.  Examples include:

Cafeterias: Must follow the latest restaurant guidance

Recommended Best Practices

Employers are encouraged to have workers continue to telework if feasible; external meetings should be remote to reduce density in the office

Workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home or arrange an alternate work assignment

Workers are strongly encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer

Encourage workers who test positive for COVID-19 to disclose to the workplace employer for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Clean commonly touched surfaces in restrooms (e.g., toilet seats, doorknobs, stall handles, sinks, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers) frequently and in accordance with CDC guidelines

Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily and more frequently if feasible)

Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning

Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, elevator buttons, staircases, vending machine, bathrooms)

Clean shared spaces (e.g., conference rooms) between use and supply cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

In event of a positive case, shut down site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current CDC guidance

Recommended Best Practices

Open windows and doors to increase airflow where possible

Checklist

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Ensure >6ft  between individuals

Each office must monitor customer and worker entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to the greater of the following:

50% of the building’s maximum permitted occupancy as documented in its occupancy permit on record with the municipal building department or other municipal record holder

Buildings for which no permitted occupancy limitation is on record may allow 10 persons (including staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible space

In any case, no enclosed space within the facility may exceed occupancy of 10 persons per 1,000 square feet

All occupancy counts and calculations shall include customers, staff, and other workers

Businesses and other organizations may exceed this maximum occupancy level based on a demonstrated need for relief based on public health or public safety considerations or where strict compliance may interfere with the continued delivery of critical services

Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals unless this creates a safety hazard due to the nature of the work or the configuration of the workspace

Close or reconfigure worker common spaces and high density areas where workers are likely to congregate (e.g., break rooms, eating areas) to allow 6 feet of physical distancing; redesign work stations to ensure physical distancing (e.g., separate tables, use distance markers to assure spacing)

Cafeterias must practice physical distancing and appropriate hygiene measures and may allow indoor and /or outdoor seating according to Restaurant guidance

Physical partitions separating workstations must be installed for areas that cannot be spaced out. Physical partitions must be at least 6 feet in height

Establish directional hallways and passageways for foot traffic if possible, to minimize contact. Post clearly visible signage regarding these policies

Limit visitors where feasible, and avoid congregation in common areas (e.g., lobbies)

Mark rooms and hallways to indicate 6 feet separation

Designate assigned working areas (e.g., floor, building) to individuals where possible to limit movement throughout the facility and limit contact between workers

Stagger work schedules and improve ventilation for enclosed spaces where possible (e.g., open doors and windows)

Limit meeting sizes, ensure 6 feet of social distancing, and encourage remote participation

Stagger lunch and break times, regulating maximum number of people in one place and ensuring at least 6 feet of physical distancing

Minimize the use of confined spaces (e.g., elevators, control rooms, vehicles) by more than one individual at a time; all workers in such spaces at the same time are required to wear face coverings

HYGIENE PROTOCOLS

Apply robust hygiene protocols

Ensure access to handwashing facilities on site, including soap and running water, wherever possible and encourage frequent handwashing; alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol may be used as an alternative

Supply workers at workplace location with adequate cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

Post visible signage throughout the site to remind workers of the hygiene and safety protocols

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol should be made available at entrances and throughout floor areas for workers

Require regular and not less than daily cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch areas such as workstations, door handles, and restrooms

Avoid sharing office materials / equipment or disinfect equipment between use (e.g., telephones, fax machines)

STAFFING & OPERATIONS

Include safety procedures in the operations

Provide training to workers on up-to-date safety information and precautions including hygiene and other measures aimed at reducing disease transmission, including:

Social distancing, hand-washing, proper use of face coverings

Self-screening at home, including temperature and symptom checks

Importance of not coming to work if ill

When to seek medical attention if symptoms become severe

Which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting and suffering from a severe case of the virus

Facilities must screen workers at each shift by ensuring the following:

Worker is not experiencing any symptoms such as fever (100.0 and above) or chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle/body aches, runny nose/congestion, new loss of taste or smell, or nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Worker has not had “close contact” with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19. “Close contact” means living in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, caring for a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, or coming in direct contact with secretions (e.g., sharing utensils, being coughed on) from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, while that person was symptomatic

Worker has not been asked to self-isolate or quarantine by their doctor or a local public health official

Workers who fail to meet the above criteria must be sent home

Adjust workplace hours and shifts (leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry points

Maintain a log of workers and customers to support contact tracing (name, date, time, contact information) if needed

Workers must wear face coverings when social distancing of 6 feet is not possible, except where unsafe due to medical condition or disability

Employers are encouraged to have workers continue to telework if feasible; external meetings should be remote to reduce density in the office

Employers should establish adjusted workplace hours and shifts for workers (if working in-person, leverage working teams with different schedules or staggered arrival / departure) to minimize contact across workers and reduce congestion at entry points

Limit visitors and service providers on site; shipping and deliveries should be completed in designated areas

For guidance on business-sponsored travel, refer to the Commonwealth's current out-of-state travel order.  Employers are strongly discouraged from allowing business-related travel to destinations other than those appearing on the Department of Public Health’s list of COVID-19 lower risk States.  Employers that permit employer-paid or -reimbursed travel to those States should take measures to ensure employees comply with this order. Employers are also urged to strongly discourage their employees from taking leisure travel to destinations not included on the list of COVID-19 lower-risk States.

Workers must stay home if feeling ill

Workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control (e.g., due to age or underlying conditions) are encouraged to stay home or arrange an alternate work assignment

Workers are strongly encouraged to self-identify symptoms or any close contact to a known or suspected COVID-19 case to the employer

Encourage workers who test positive for COVID-19 to disclose to the workplace employer for purposes of cleaning / disinfecting and contact tracing. If the employer is notified of a positive case at the workplace, the employer shall notify the local Board of Health (LBOH) in the city or town where the workplace is located and assist the LBOH as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may be recommended consistent with guidance and / or at the request of the LBOH

Post notice to workers and customers of important health information and relevant safety measures as outlined in the Commonwealth’s Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplace

Offices should maintain operating hours that allow for on-going off-hour sanitation and cleaning

Allow water fountains to be used as refill stations only, provided that social distancing can be maintained. Workers should bring their own water bottles

Additional on-site amenities and services may only open and operate when those amenities or services would otherwise be authorized to operate under the Commonwealth’s Phased Reopening Plan and then must adhere to all sector-specific safety protocols, available on the Reopening Plan website, applicable to the amenity or service.  Examples include:

Cafeterias: Must follow the latest restaurant guidance

CLEANING & DISINFECTING

Incorporate robust hygiene protocols

Clean commonly touched surfaces in restrooms (e.g., toilet seats, doorknobs, stall handles, sinks, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers) frequently and in accordance with CDC guidelines

Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfection of site (at least daily and more frequently if feasible)

Keep cleaning logs that include date, time, and scope of cleaning

Conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, elevator buttons, staircases, vending machine, bathrooms)

Clean shared spaces (e.g., conference rooms) between use and supply cleaning products (e.g., sanitizer, disinfecting wipes)

In event of a positive case, shut down site for a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace in accordance with current CDC guidance

Open windows and doors to increase airflow where possible

Phase III Downloads and Translations

Phase II Step 2 Downloads

Phase II Step 1 Downloads

These are updated documents for Phase II of the reopening plan.

Additional Resources

Phase I Downloads, Translations and Additional Guidance

Additional resources below, including easy print versions of the sector-specific circular and checklist, as well as translations of those files into other languages. 

Additional Resources

Last updated: July 24, 2020
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