Guidelines and Procedures for RMFI Field Crews in Response to COVID-19

Guidelines and Procedures for RMFI Field Crews in Response to COVID-19

March 11, 2021 by RMFI

This document was most recently updated on March 11, 2021.

 

GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR RMFI FIELD CREWS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
 

PURPOSE:

RMFI is authorized to complete trail and restoration work as an essential business on public lands managed by municipal, county, state, and federal land management agencies. In delivering these essential services, RMFI will keep the health and safety of our employees and community as the first priority. 

The purpose of this document is to provide RMFI employees with operating procedures to abide by CDC guidelines and government issued orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring a productive, positive, and safe work environment.

THESE GUIDELINES ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE AND MUST BE FOLLOWED AT ALL TIMES TO ENSURE EMPLOYMENT.

GENERAL INFO AND GUIDANCE:

  • All RMFI employees must remain vigilant in following all CDC guidelines and complying with all government issued orders AT ALL TIMES. This document is subject to change contingent on the latest pandemic information, best practices, and updates to local public health guidelines.
  • If you are feeling unwell, do not come into work! Self-isolate and follow CDC’s Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.
  • If you come into contact with someone who is sick with the virus or someone who has been in contact with a confirmed case, notify your immediate supervisor and do not come to work!
     
  • Social Distancing
    • All staff must remain a minimum of 6’ apart from each other and any member of the public to the greatest extent possible during the workday. 
    • Reduce group size whenever possible.
    • Avoid anyone who may have COVID-19 or may have come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus. 
    • Limit your exposure by minimizing the number of trips to obtain essentials for RMFI (i.e. hardware, fuel, etc.) and your personal needs (groceries, etc). Limit RMFI staff at 2 if needing to purchase items in person. Use online ordering services whenever possible to reduce in-person interactions at retail venues.
       
  • Screening:
    • All field staff must self-certify before each workday that they are symptom free using the following checklist based on CDPHE Safer at Home guidelines:
      • Take temperature
        • Temperature of 100.4 °F is an automatic “No GO.” Staff should notify their PM and should stay home from work. . 
        • Temperature of 99.2 °F or higher, but less than 100 °F, staff should begin monitoring their temperature twice a day for a minimum of 7 days.
      • Assess for symptoms 
        • If the person answers affirmatively to a combination of two of any of the following, the person should immediately notify their PM and should stay home from work. If illness occurs during working hours, the affected staff member should leave the project site and fill out an incident report form included in RMFI site notebooks.
          • Dry Cough 
          • Sore Throat 
          • Shortness of breath
          • New loss of taste or smell
          • Headache
          • Chills
          • Repeated shaking with chills
          • Muscle pain
          • Fatigue
          • Diarrhoea
          • Nasal congestion
          • Runny nose
             
  • Hygiene: 
    • All staff are required to practice good hygiene on the job:
      • Frequently wash hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds especially when preparing food, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, or touching any potentially contaminated surface.
      • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when soap and water is not available.
      • Disinfect high traffic, communal surfaces.
      • Avoid touching face, nose, and eyes.
         
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Leather work gloves: Do not share your work gloves. RMFI will provide a diluted bleach solution if staff would like to disinfect work gloves.
    • Eye Pro: Do not share eye protection with anyone. Disinfect once per day.
    • Non-sterile nitrile gloves can be used under work gloves or when touching communal or public surfaces (i.e. gas station pumps) at workers’ discretion and when disposing of communal waste (i.e. trash, gray water from hand washing stations).
    • Face Masks
      • Based on the latest CDC guidelines and State of Colorado Safer at Home Orders, RMFI requires DIY face masks or cloth face masks to be worn during these scenarios: 
      • Stewardship Crew:
        • During staff only workdays, employees will wear masks when social distancing is difficult to achieve between fellow employees or the public. Staff must keep a mask on their person at all times during the workday! 
      • Youth Corps:
        • While working alongside or supervising youth corps members, RMFI staff will wear masks when social distancing is difficult to maintain. 
      • Volunteers:
        • RMFI will continue to maintain a stringent mask wearing policy during volunteer programming. Masks must be worn throughout the entire workday by both staff and program participants to the greatest extent possible. Please refer to the RMFI COVID-19 Volunteer Engagement Operating Procedures document for more details.
      • Masks need to have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric; must completely cover your nose and mouth; and must fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps.
      • Pacing and taking breaks:
        • Staff should take as many breaks as needed to avoid overexertion when wearing masks
        • If a mask must be removed due to difficulty breathing, staff should distance themselves before doing so.
      • Cleaning:
        • Wash face masks frequently with warm soap and water 
        • Storage: 
        • Store masks with personal items in sealable plastic bags.
      • Replacement:
        • RMFI will supply each field staff with a minimum of 2 face masks. Dispose of face masks that become damaged and notify Alex Hladkyj (Program Manager)  to request a replacement.
      • See CDC FAQs for additional information.
         
  • Trucks:
    • Only 1 staff may be in a RMFI vehicle at any given time, unless an emergency evacuation is required or if carpooling is authorized by PMs and the Program Director. In the event carpooling is required, staff must wear masks, have windows rolled down, and space as far apart as possible in the cab.
    • RMFI trucks will be assigned to Stewardship Crews. The Crew will continue to use this same truck every workday until further notice.
    • Disinfect all frequently touched surfaces routinely using the disinfection kit located within each vehicle.
       
  • Trailer: 
    • Only 1 staff member may be in the trailer at any given time.
    • Disinfect locks, handles, and other high traffic surfaces frequently using the disinfection kit located with the trailer.
    • Trailer will be designated for volunteer programming or to a Stew Crew for a given week to minimize tool sharing between crews.
       
  • Shipping Containers: 
    • No more than 3 staff members may be in the 20’ shipping container simultaneously and no more than 4 in the 40’ unit, adhering to social distancing as much as possible. When 2 or more staff are in the shipping container, face masks must be worn.
    • Keep the door ajar to ensure fresh air flow.
    • Disinfect locks, handles, and other high traffic surfaces frequently using the disinfection kit located on the workbenches.
       
  • Warehouse:
    • No more than 3 staff can be within the warehouse at any point and masks must be worn.
    • Disinfect locks, handles, and commonly touched surfaces using the disinfection kit located at the entrance of the warehouse.
       
  • RMFI Office:
    • The goal is to have generally no more than 6 staff in the Gnome Dome or Tava Room at one time.
    • Staff should wear masks while at the RMFI office. Ensure 6 foot spacing among all staff and other building tenants. 

Pre-Field Workday Preparations 

  • Everyone should meet at the RMFI office for pre-day workday prep. There will be staggered start times for each crew to minimize how many people are in the office at the same time.
  • Delegate tasks to prepare for the day as quickly as possible while limiting how many people are in the office space at the same time. 
  • FCs  or a trained staff member will drive RMFI trucks to the work site. Remaining staff will drive personal vehicles to the work site and track mileage to and from the worksite. *Mileage will be reimbursed at the Federal Rate each paycheck and noted on the mileage tab for the specific project in the individual employee’s timesheet.* 
  • Staff will keep official RMFI signage in personal vehicles to designate their vehicle as an authorized vehicle on RMFI business. 
  • These policies will continue until otherwise directed.

Pandemic Specific Field Supplies:

  • FCs are to work with Alex Hladkyj, PM - Operations, to ensure adequate hygiene and cleaning supplies are available. 
  • Handwashing Station:
    • Each day, a handwashing station must be prepped at the worksite consisting of:
      • A dromedary.
      • Hand soap
      • Paper towels
      • Trash bags
      • A sealable bucket for waste water 
        • Waste water should either be brought back to the office and dumped down one of the toilets or disposed of in a sump hole at the project site. When disposing of wastewater use a face mask and gloves.
      • There will be no more than 5 people to a handwashing station
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Disinfectant (Wipes, spray)
    • Signage
      • Use provided signs in yellow sandwich boards with COVID-19 specific messaging at each project site to best communicate our presence and professionalism while completing stewardship work on public lands.
      • Place signs far enough from both ends of the worksite to give the public and your team adequate time to allow safe passage. 

Field Procedures

  • Social Distancing 
    • Some project objectives may not be feasible while maintaining compliance. PMs and FCs, in collaboration with project partners, will determine on a case-by-case basis what projects need to be postponed or altered.
    • Disperse crew members as much as possible on projects. 
    • Avoid having multiple staff members working within a close proximity.
       
  • Guidelines 
  • Moving rock: 
    • Use face masks or buffs when carrying rocks with RCDs.
    • Use the rock dolly whenever possible with proper 6’ spacing. Use face masks or buffs when carrying rocks with dolly.
    • Use the largest rocks that can be hand carried safely by one individual
  • Moving Timber
    • Timbers are typically 6”x6”x8’ and can be carried safely in teams of 2 with one person on each end of the timber. Use face masks or buffs when carrying timbers.
  • Fencing:
    • Avoid fencing when possible. When installing fencing is critical to projects that can’t be postponed or rescheduled, use face masks and limit to 2 people.
  • Trail construction and maintenance and restoration:
    • Spread teammates out.
    • Minimize sharing tools - bring extra tools or assign a specific job to each crew member for a shift.
    • Work at a pace that ensures social distancing and avoids overexertion. 

Public Interaction and Communications

With many public lands remaining open, RMFI will likely continue to see a surge of visitation at front country project sites. It is imperative that we maintain compliance with authorities while in public spaces to ensure everyone’s safety and to uphold RMFI’s reputation for professionalism. We MUST avoid any negative backlash from the public if the public observes RMFI staff working in the field and are not following guidelines. FOLLOW ALL GUIDELINES.

  • Trail Users:
    • When a trail user is approaching the worksite, acknowledge their presence in a friendly manner while maintaining distance and notify the crew to cease work and step off of the trail. 
    • Spread out to ensure 6’ distance is maintained.
    • Be prepared to discuss RMFI’s procedures that ensure public safety during this time. Refer them to our website describing our operating policy or to call Jennifer Peterson’s number (979-575-6848) and email ([email protected]) located on worksite signage with any questions you do not feel comfortable answering
      • "Under the authorization of the (insert land management agency name) , Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) has been permitted to provide essential park maintenance operations. We are continuing to work on critical project objectives on public lands while following CDC recommendations of limiting staff group sizes, maintaining at least 6 ft. distance between staff members at all times, driving to site locations in separate vehicles, and following health and sanitary guidelines by washing our hands frequently throughout the work day, wiping down potentially shared surfaces with disinfectants, and not sharing gloves, eye protection, or any additional PPE."
         
  • Volunteers:
    • Please see the RMFI COVID-19 Volunteer Engagement Operating Procedures 
       
  • Tool Use
    • Minimize sharing tools whenever possible! Bring a surplus of tools to ensure each staff has access to their own set for the workday. 
    • Wear gloves at all times when handling tools.
    • Designate tools that are essential for each staff member to have at any point. Consider temporarily marking each tool with duct tape and initials to prevent exchanging tools throughout the day/week. 

      OR

       
    • Consider appointing a set of tasks that limits the number of tools needed by each person to minimize the number of tools each individual may need in a given shift.
    • Disinfect all tools at the beginning of each workday and at the end of each workday.
    • Avoid exchanging tools between Stew Crews by keeping hand tools in designated trucks overnight. Be sure to lock vehicles!
       
  • PPE
    • Do not share any PPE (gloves, eye pro, hats, lip balm, buffs, sunscreen, ect.). All PPE is to remain on your person.
       
  • Hygiene
    • Staff must wash hands and/or use hand sanitizer before and after eating.
       
  • First Aid:
    • FCs or project leads will be designated as safety officers for each crew. They will be responsible for handling, distributing, and restocking first aid supplies to the greatest extent possible. 
    • Staff must wear masks and gloves when treating a patient. Face shields are available in each RMFI vehicle if desired.
    • Staff must maximize social distancing when treating patients in first aid by delegating as much care as possible to be completed by the patient themselves.
    • Staff must use discretion to prioritize first aid treatments vs. COVID-19 exposure risks.
    • If there is an emergency, call 911.

Post Workday

  • FCs:
    • FCs or a trained staff member will drive RMFI trucks back to the RMFI office. FCs will direct end of day activities and confirm meet up time for the next day and any other pertinent plans.
       
  • Stew Crew
    • Staff will be assigned to help with putting away tools, tool maintenance, and disinfecting surfaces as long as the total number of staff does not exceed 10 at the RMFI office.
       
  • Documentation:

FCs and project leads are ultimately responsible for proper project documentation, and are empowered to delegate these tasks to appropriate staff. Documentation can also be completed remotely to minimize staff time in the RMFI office.

  • Documentation includes:
    • Photos
    • Work Log
    • Registrations
    • GPS
    • Equipment Log 
    • Feelings Sheet. 
  • FCs or staff without access to home internet and a home computer will be permitted to use the field office computers for post-day documentation. Please wipe all keyboards, mice, and desks after each use. 
  • FCs are required to ensure documentation is being completed at the end of each workday with the support of PMs. When documentation is getting completed remotely, extra attention must be paid to ensure completion. 
  • All documentation that can be completed remotely from home is strongly encouraged. RMFI utilizes a Cloud based storage system through Google Drive, called the RMFI Cloud. Staff with a personal computer and access to WIFI can complete all documentation, besides GPS, remotely on the Cloud. You may encounter a Security Alert the first time you attempt to log-in from home. If this happens, Jennifer is the one that can provide access - please text or call her to ask for the access code (979-575-6848).
  • Disinfecting
    • All surfaces touched by staff during the workday must be disinfected. These include but are not limited to:
      • Trucks (tailgate handles, topper handles, steering wheels)
      • Tools 
      • Trailer
      • Warehouse
      • Computers 
      • Doorknobs
      • Use discretion to determine items that may not be listed here

Public Health & Executive Orders

Resources

 

CAMPING GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR RMFI FIELD CREWS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Purpose:

The purpose of this document is to provide backcountry and camping specific guidelines and procedures for RMFI Staffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. All procedures outlined in associated documents (RMFI COVID-19 Operating Procedures and COVID-19 Volunteer Day Guidelines) must still be followed with no exceptions.

These guidelines are subject to change contingent on individual land manager specifications.

Campsites:

  • Social Distancing
    • Staff are required to abide by all social distancing guidelines detailed in RMFI’s COVID-19 Operating Procedures and Volunteer Day Guidelines documents.
    • Maintain a minimum of 6’ distance from other staff and members of the public. 
    • Masks/face coverings should be worn when social distancing is hard to maintain during Stew Crew or Youth Corps workdays. Masks must be worn at all times during volunteer programs.  
    • To prevent unnecessary exposure of the virus, all Field Crews will be composed of the SAME staff every hitch to the greatest extent possible.
  • Screening:
    • All field staff must self-certify before each workday that they are symptom free using the following checklist based on CDC and CDPHE Stay Safe at Home guidelines:
      • Take temperature using RMFI provided infrared temple thermometer. Disinfect between each use. 
        • Temperature of 100.4 ℉ is an automatic “No GO.” Staff should notify their supervisor and should stay home from work. 
        • Temperature of 99.2 °F or higher, but less than 100 °F, staff should begin monitoring their temperature twice a day for a minimum of 7 days.
      • Assess for symptoms 
        • If the person answers affirmatively to a combination of two of any of the following, the person should isolate and evacuate the project site. An incident report form should be filled out and a supervisor notified in the event of evacuation due to suspected COVID-19 illness.
          • Dry cough.
          • Sore throat.
          • Shortness of breath.
          • New loss of taste or smell.
          • Headache.
          • Chills.
          • Repeated shaking with chills.
          • Muscle pain.
          • Fatigue.
          • Diarrhoea.
          • Nasal congestion.
          • Runny nose.
        • If evacuation of the sick staff person is required, but they are too sick to drive themselves, a RMFI staff member will drive them using the following protocols: 
          • Both staff members must wear masks.
          • Maximize distancing within the vehicle is required
          • Keep windows open and do not recirculate air using AC system.
          • Follow all RMFI SOPs for evacuation in addition to these guidelines.
          • If there is only one RMFI vehicle and no personal vehicles on site, another RMFI staff member will need to be contacted to facilitate evac. 
  • Hygiene 
    • All staff must practice exceptional hygiene during camping hitches. 
      • Frequently wash hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds especially when preparing food, before eating, after cleaning kitchenware, personal care such as brushing teeth, using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, or touching any potentially contaminated surface.
      • Use alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
      • Disinfect high traffic, communal surfaces.
      • Avoid touching face, nose, and eyes.
  • Location:
    • Campsites should maximize social distancing by being located as far as possible from areas of high traffic (roads, trails, bathrooms) and other campsites used by the general public.
  • Signage:
    • RMFI will post signs around the perimeter of campsites with COVID-19 specific messaging requesting social distancing to RMFI crews.
  • Tents:
    • All staff and program participants will be assigned a tent for the duration of the season.
    • When camping with volunteers, participants will be required to bring their own tents with an exception for participants in RMFI’s Earth Corps field studies program and Building Outdoor Leaders Today program. 
    • Tents must be disinfected before being used by a different individual. Clean using diluted soap, water, and cloth. Dry completely before storage.
    • Only 1 staff member or participant per tent.
    • Tents should be spaced at least 6’ apart to maximize social distancing.
    • Large communal tents (stronghold) should be avoided unless absolutely critical for the project. If large communal tents are unavoidable, crews must wear masks while inside, limit to 2 individuals at a time, and disinfect touched surfaces after each use. 
  • Sleeping Pads:
    • Staff must provide their own sleeping pads if at all possible. 
    • Loaner pads can be checked out with the PM-Operations.
    • Disinfect loaner pads after each hitch.

Travel:

  • Crews should minimize stops while traveling to worksites whenever possible. If stopping is unavoidable, wear PPE and wash hands or use hand sanitizer at each stop.
  • While pumping gas, staff should wear a face mask.

Shopping:

  • Staff should pre-order groceries for pick up online to avoid shopping in person. This has the added benefit of increasing efficiency.
  • Staff can order groceries online at King Soopers at this website link
  • If staff need to make additional shopping trips (an item was forgotten, a mid-hitch supply run etc.) no more than 2 staff members will shop at any time. Staff will wear masks at all times while shopping. 

Cooking:

  • PPE
    • Staff must wear masks while shopping for food, preparing food and during post-meal clean-up.
  • Youth Corps & Volunteers
    • RMFI will not share meals with or prepare food for volunteers or Youth Corps unless approved by program staff.
    • RMFI and Youth Corps will have separate kitchen set ups and storage of food. 
  • Water
    • Staff will filter their own water.
    • Or wear masks while preparing communal water sources.
    • Staff will disinfect communal water sources and filters after each use.
  • Kitchen Gear
    • Staff will cook communally using the following risk management measures:
      • Washing hands before and after meals.
      • No more than 2 staff preparing food each meal. Staff preparing food will wear masks at all times.
      • Staff will not share utensils or plates during meals- use personal cups, plates, and utensils or wash RMFI provided items between uses.
      • Clean their personal set of kitchenware individually using RMFI’s hygienic 4 bucket system - items must dry in separate dish nets.
      • Disinfect all communal surfaces (stove, camp tables, etc.).
  • Hand Washing Station
    • Hand washing stations are a priority at camp and should be used frequently.

Waste

  • WAG System
    • RMFI and Youth Corps must have separate WAG setups. 
    • Staff will:
      • Sanitize all touched surfaces of WAG set up after each use and wear PPE while disinfecting items (i.e. buckets, gri-gri, carabiners, bear mace bathroom key).
      • Wash hands before and after using the WAG system.
  • Communal Waste
    • RMFI staff will wear PPE while handling and disposing of communal waste. 
    • RMFI and Youth Corps will have separate communal waste receptacles. 

Worksite

  • Tools 
    • RMFI crews will minimize sharing tools whenever possible. When sharing tools are unavoidable, disinfect before exchanging. 
    • Staff and Youth Corps will not share tools.

See RMFI COVID-19 Operating Procedures for more detailed instructions on work site protocols. 

Post-Hitch Derigging

  • Camping Equipment:
    • RMFI crews will disinfect all communal gear used throughout the hitch. Standard COVID-19 PPE must be worn at all times. Items to clean include but are not limited to:
      • Coolers.
      • Kitchenware.
      • Tools.
      • Trucks.
      • Trailer.
      • Staff should use their discretion to include additional items not listed here.

Refer to RMFI COVID-19 Operating Procedures above for more detailed instructions on post-workday procedures.