• DSHS HIV/STD Program

    Post Office Box 149347, MC 1873
    Austin, Texas 78714

    Phone: 737-255-4300

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2012.03

Alternative Worksite Procedure Due to Power Outage, HVAC System Failure and Other Temporary Environmental Factors

Policy
Policy Number 2012.03
Effective Date December 31, 2013
Revision Date  
Subject Matter Expert Section Director & Communications Group Team Lead
Approval Authority TB/HIV/STD Section Director
Signed by Felipe Rocha, M.S.S.W.

1.0 Purpose

This document establishes general procedures that the HIV/STD Program staff located in Building 636 on the Austin State Hospital (ASH) Campus will follow if a power outage, malfunctioning of the air conditioning/heating unit(s), and/or other temporary environmental factors make it infeasible to work in this location.

 

2.0 Background

Building 636 was formerly one of the living quarters for patients at the ASH and was built in the late 1950s. The HIV/STD Program moved into Building 636 in 2005. Building 636 is comprised of four wings (quads) and a front main space located on the north side of the building. Each wing is divided into four rooms (pods) that house at least six cubicles, one for each staff. The two quads in the south side require additional security. Doors into the hallway leading to these quads and the doors into the quads are secured with card readers that require card keys to gain access. The front main space of the building has seven offices, two conference rooms and twenty three cubicles.

One of the resulting conditions of this greatly partitioned space is that air flow is restricted. Additionally, six staff in each pod maximizes the use of space but also places staff in close quarters to each other and contributes to higher room temperature.

In addition to heating and cooling issues described below, Building 636 has experienced a number of electrical power interruptions lasting from minutes to hours. These interruptions result in lack of sufficient light to work, as well as lack of computer functioning. Additionally, when such interruptions are lengthy and the outdoor temperatures are either high or low, indoor temperatures quickly leave the range of comfort for an office environment.

 

2.1 South Side of Building 636 (Medication & Surveillance Quads)

The south side of Building 636 houses the Medication and Surveillance quads. This part of the building also has an independently functioning air conditioning unit that was installed in 2009. Consequently, this part of the building cools down quicker. It is critical to keep this area cool as these staff cannot complete their work from other locations due to security requirements. Staff are either responsible for getting medications to clients or entering confidential data into databases.

 

2.2 North Side and Central Area of Building 636 (Administration & Prevention Services & Epidemiology Quads)

The north side of Building 636 houses management and administration personnel. The central area houses the Prevention Services and Epidemiology quads and the server room. Both the north side and central area quads are served by an older two-pipe heating and cooling system. This system requires that water be heated and distributed through the area for warmth and chilled and distributed for cooling. The Austin climate includes many days that begin with relative low temperatures that rise quickly as the day progresses. When the twopipe system needs to change from heating to cooling, it requires at least a 3-4 hour time period for the water supply to cool down before it can begin to be chilled. This pattern frequently results in indoor temperatures in the upper 70s and into the 80s with no air circulation. Additionally, this antiquated system experiences malfunctions on a not-infrequent basis. Such malfunctions sometimes result in indoor temperatures in the 60s.

The server room is served by an independently functioning air conditioning unit.

 

3.0 Procedures - Trigger Event(s)

In the event of a general power outage which is already four hours or greater or anticipated to be four hours or greater in duration by 9 am, the following will occur:

  1. the informed manager, SSO or staff will notify the Section Director and Branch Managers of the power outage;
  2. the Managers will communicate with ASH building maintenance staff and determine how long the power has been off or will be off;
  3. the Section Director will inform the Division office of the power outage;
  4. if it is determined that the power has been off at least four hours or greater, or that it will be off for four hours or greater, staff will be allowed to work from an alternate work site by their respective Branch Managers; and
  5. a request for emergency leave will be initiated for staff unable to work from an alternate work site by the respective Branch Managers or the Section Director. The Section Director will assure the request is received in the Division office.

In the event that it is warmer than usual (greater than 78 degrees) in any part of the building, the following will occur:

  1. the Section Director will be informed of the temperature conditions;
  2. if the temperature continues to rise over the subsequent hour from when the Section Director was informed, the respective Branch Managers will allow staff in the affected part(s) of the building to work from an alternate work site; and
  3. Branch Managers will inform the Section Director if emergency leave will be requested.

In the event that other temporary environmental conditions not cited above affect any part of the building, the following will occur:

  1. the Section Director will be informed of the environmental conditions;
  2. if the environmental conditions persist over the subsequent hour from when the Section Director was informed, the respective Branch Managers will allow staff in the affected part(s) of the building to work from an alternate work site; and
  3. Branch Managers will inform the Section Director if emergency leave will be requested.

 

4.0 Alternate Work Site

In the event that staff are unable to remain in Building 636 because of a power outage, HVAC malfunction, and/or other environmental factors as described in Section 3.0 of this Procedure, Section staff will be allowed to work from an alternate work site. An alternate work site is considered acceptable as long as the staff is able to complete their work assignments, and have a way of communicating with their supervisor. Alternate work sites may include but are not limited to:

  • Space in another DSHS building
  • Staff homes
  • Libraries
  • Cafes, etc.

Staff working from an alternate work site will be asked to communicate at least once with their supervisor in the period away from Building 636 to apprise them of progress on work assignments. Communication may be in the form of a phone call, email or text.

The supervisor will maintain a list of the staff working from an alternate work site and provide a copy of this list to the Branch Manager. If necessary, this list will be made available to the Section office.

If building conditions improve, supervisors will ask staff to return to work in Building 636. Branch Managers will inform supervisors as to when they can ask staff to come back. Staff not returning to work will either receive permission from their supervisor to continue working off-site or take leave for the reminder of the workday.

 

5.0 Emergency Leave

Staff who are unable to work from an alternate work site because their work necessitates staying at their work station or because they do not have work that can be accomplished away from their work station will have emergency leave requested on their behalf.

Respective Branch Managers or their designees will submit a list of all staff for whom emergency leave will be requested. This list will be submitted to the Section office no later than close of business for the day for which the leave is requested. The Section office will then forward the leave request to the Assistant Commissioner in the Division of Laboratories and Infectious Disease Services.

Staff who are eligible to take leave but instead work from either on site or off site will not be granted leave or flex time. Staff who are on travel status or who already work from alternate work site are considered to be working and not eligible for emergency leave.

If building conditions improve staff may be asked to return to work in Building 636 by their supervisors. Branch Managers will inform supervisors as to when they may request staff to come back. Staff will be allowed to complete their work day at an alternate work site if they have an hour or less left in their work day.

Emergency leave is to be used according to HHSC policy.

Branch Managers will keep a roster of their staff by area and indicate those staff who can potentially work from an alternate work site and those that cannot. This roster will be used as a checklist to quickly determine who is eligible for emergency leave and who is not.

The Section Director or designated Section staff will communicate with Branch Managers about the status of the emergency leave request as quickly as it becomes known.

 

6.0 Communication

As much as possible, the communication pathway will be via the chain of command where the Branch Manager communicates through the Section Director to the Division Office. In the event that Section staff are not available, the Branch Manager will directly communicate with the Associate Commissioner or Division staff services officer, whoever is available.

Staff who first become aware of a power outage and/or malfunctioning air conditioning unit will communicate this situation to the Branch Manager or the Branch staff services officer, if available. If not available, program staff should directly communicate with staff in the Section office, preferably the Director, Staff Services Officer or Executive Assistant.

 

7.0 Revision History

Date Action Section
Revision History
9/1/2017 Changed "TB/HIV/STD Unit" to "TB/HIV/STD Section" to reflect new program designation -
9/3/2014 Converted format (Word to HTML) -
12/31/2012 This is a new policy N/A

 


Last updated May 26, 2021