During this time of uncertainty, the WRPS leadership is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees and keeping them informed. We have been working together with the Department of Energy and other Hanford contractors with employee safety as our top priority. We began taking proactive steps in February by encouraging employees to follow the federal, state and county public health agency guidelines to keep themselves, their colleagues and their families well. We are monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and checking the Washington State Department of Health and Benton-Franklin Health District web pages frequently for new information.
Hanford is currently in a phased remobilization of Site operations
Washington River Protection Solutions, the other Hanford contractors and the Department of Energy have worked closely to develop a deliberate and phased approach to safely resuming full operations based on scientific and medical criteria to assess local conditions. Employees will return to their on-site work locations during multiple phases, each adding additional high-priority operations and activities, requiring heavier PPE usage and other health and safety precautions. The pace of this approach will be based on a risk analyses that will take into account several factors, including available health data, federal, state and local restrictions, and facility and site preparedness.
When Will I Return to Work?
Your manager will notify you.
What You Should Expect
The work environment and practices have changed for all of us and require everyone’s attention, patience and understanding. We will continue to implement the enhanced health and safety protocols that have been established over time, including:
- Social distancing (including use of technology for meetings and briefings)
- Increased cleaning, disinfection practices and availability of hand sanitizer and disinfection wipes
- Restrictions in travel and gatherings
Remember, we each have a responsibility to do our part to protect ourselves and our coworkers, such as washing our hands frequently, refraining from touching our faces, avoiding shaking hands, and staying home of you do not feel well.
Face Coverings Required
With the introduction of additional personnel on the Hanford footprint, all workers will be required to wear cloth face coverings while working at the Hanford Site. Employees will be provided a bandana, or you can also bring your personal face covering from home. Cloth face coverings are made from a variety of materials, can be manufactured or homemade, and can be laundered/reused or disposable. Certain exceptions to the face coverings requirement include:
- Eating and drinking
- Underlying health conditions (as accommodated through Human Resources)
- When other respiratory protection is required
- Transition work activities (e.g. donning and doffing area)
- Working alone (e.g. in an office or cubicle, vehicle, fabrication tent, in remote locations)
Temperature and Health Checks
Remember, we each have a responsibility to do our part to protect ourselves and our coworkers, such as washing our hands frequently, refraining from touching our faces, avoiding shaking hands, and staying home if you do not feel well. Each day, prior to leaving for work, employees should ask themselves if they have any of these COVID-19-related symptoms:
- A temperature of 100.4o F /38o C or greater
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
If yes to any of the above, and you cannot attribute them to any other pre-existing condition, employees should inform their supervisor, not report to work and contact their personal physician.
November 4, 2020
Last month, I communicated through an all-employee message the importance of not letting your guard down against the pandemic during the fall and winter seasons. More than ever, it is imperative that we follow our protocols to keep you and your coworkers, friends and family safe during this uniquely challenging time.
Unfortunately, over the past seven days, we have experienced an uptick in both positive cases and in the number of our employees who have been required to quarantine through contract tracing and that, quite frankly, alarms me.
An evaluation of our recent cases indicates that we have a vulnerability, and I am asking for your help to fix it. All of WRPS’s positive cases have been linked to virus transmission in off-site locations and during non-work hours. Moreover, a study of the contact tracing results indicates that many of our employees are being quarantined following close contacts made during car/van pools, during lunch breaks and during off-site activities.
I am asking you to make a personal commitment to stay as vigilant in your off-work time as you do in the workplace. It will make a difference. Particularly during the upcoming holidays when we all want to spend time with our family and friends. While you control what you do in your free time, I just want to reinforce that your actions off the clock can have a direct effect on your family, friends and co-workers.
While in the workplace, I recognize that maintaining 6-feet of physical distance can be challenging in our line of work and the limitations in many of our facilities make it even more difficult, particularly during large pre-job briefings. Please work to remain situationally aware and work to be your co-worker’s keeper by paying extra attention to distancing measures especially during lunch breaks, meetings, and in the general work spaces. And lastly, at this point in time, I do encourage those who rely on car/van pools to reconsider that practice.
Throughout all of our areas, we will be implementing and considering a few additional measures to help ensure that we have the safest work environment possible. There are a range of options that include greater reliance on five-day work weeks, day-swing shifts, relocating employees to different facilities, reconfiguring lunch rooms to reduce occupancy and discourage congregation, and use of air purifiers in smaller spaces and trailers.
For all of us, the best way to combat the virus is to stick to the basics and stay at home when you are ill. Together, we will ensure our safety at home and on the job. Be well.
November 23, 2020
TO: All Hanford Site Employees
SUBJECT: Update on COVID-19 Notifications
Since March, Hanford Site communications have depended heavily on the Hanford Mobile app and Hanford.gov to share COVID-19-related information concerning access restrictions to facilities for cleaning and disinfecting protocols. An unintended consequence of our robust communications approach in response to COVID-19 is that some employees have reported becoming desensitized to Hanford Mobile app messages. As we enter the winter months, our ability to communicate Site delays or closures driven by severe weather conditions is important to the safety of every member of our Hanford team.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 30, we will no longer send real-time notifications on COVID-19 facility restrictions via the Hanford Mobile app. Facility status information will still be shared real-time through each contractor’s notification system (PRCNS, SOENS, WARNS) and through the “DOE and Company Status” link on the Hanford Mobile app and Hanford.gov. There will also continue to be a summary of COVID-19 information at approximately 4 p.m. each day via the Hanford Mobile app and Hanford.gov.
To sign up for real-time notifications through one of the contractor notification systems, please refer to the information below. The information will be the same on all three notification systems, so if you are signing up to receive the COVID-19 facility status notifications, it is recommended you only sign up for one to avoid receiving duplicate messages. The Emergency Operations Center is suggesting that federal or other contractor employees sign up for the MSA WARNS system, although all of the notification services will send out the COVID-19 messages.
WRPS – SOENS – Shaun Waters
For the Waste Treatment Plant or Vit Plant, the 24/7 shift manager will use radios to notify on-site employees of any applicable restrictions and a project-wide email notification will be sent for Richland office restrictions as needed.
Continuing to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and staying home if you are sick, remains critical to our collective effort in the fight against COVID‑19. Following these measures, both at work and at home, and especially as you choose to celebrate during the upcoming holidays, remains critical to the health and safety of our coworkers, families and community.
Brian T. Vance
Richland Operations /
Office of River Protection