Report highlights well being, security, safety considerations on federal buildings

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The next are sections of an IG report on the important thing administration challenges going through GSA, specializing in considerations about constructing security and safety and air and water high quality in federal buildings.

GSA’s Administration of Constructing Security

Administration of GSA’s constructing security measures is vital as a result of issues can create hearth, security, and well being dangers to GSA constructing occupants, contractors, personnel, the general public, and federal property. Nonetheless, current audit studies have demonstrated that GSA continues to face challenges on this space.

For instance, in February 2022, we reported that PBS didn’t adjust to federal laws and its coverage for asbestos administration on the Chet Holyfield Federal Constructing (CHFB). 30 Because of this, CHFB tenants, guests, contractors and PBS workers had been fired. There’s an elevated threat of publicity to supplies containing asbestos. We discovered that PBS:

• doesn’t keep a dependable asbestos-containing supplies stock for the CHFB or replace the CHFB asbestos administration plan;

• Did not notify constructing occupants of the presence and placement of asbestos-containing supplies in accordance with federal and state laws and PBS coverage; And

• CHFB offering insufficient monitoring of O&M service contractor.

We additionally discovered that PBS’s asbestos coverage comprises unclear and conflicting data, which can end in inconsistent utility of the coverage by PBS workers and failure to adjust to relevant legal guidelines and laws.

In March 2022, we reported that PBS had not recognized all high-risk makes use of of area underneath GSA management as a result of it was not successfully managing its hearth, security and well being program.31 Because of this, PBS ended Haven’t taken measures to get rid of or mitigate potential hearth, security and well being hazards arising from the high-risk use of the area, or determine and resolve all incompatible actions.

Safety flaws in GSA services

Our report additionally demonstrates the numerous challenges going through the safety of GSA services. For instance, in June 2022 we reported on deficiencies in safety cameras and alarm methods in GSA-owned buildings.32 Particular findings of our report are restricted from public launch; Nonetheless, we discovered that though there’s an settlement between GSA and the US Division of Homeland Safety’s Federal Protecting Service to coordinate the long-standing points recognized in our report, little motion is being taken to treatment the scenario. Is.

The deficiencies present in our earlier studies on safety at GSA services, in addition to in our studies on safety cameras and alarm methods, present that bodily safety stays a problem for GSA. In January 2020, we reported vital safety weaknesses in baby care facilities in GSA-regulated services.33 In September 2021, we reported on website safety and widespread deficiencies in safety operations and administration at a high-risk GSA constructing.34

GSA is taking corrective motion to deal with these deficiencies. For instance, GSA acquired $15 million via the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 to deal with security deficiencies in baby care facilities recognized via our January 2020 report. GSA officers informed us they’re actively planning tasks utilizing this funding to enhance safety in these areas. services. Regardless of these efforts, our continued findings on this space show the continued want for GSA administration consideration.

air flow and air filtration

CDC Steerage for Companies and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Illness 2019 (COVID- 19) Recommends Enhancing Constructing Air flow to Cut back the Focus of Virus Particles within the Air to Gradual the Unfold of COVID-19 within the Office does. The CDC’s suggestions embrace growing the introduction of out of doors air and enhancing central air filtration. Throughout FY 2022, we issued two studies figuring out deficiencies in air flow and air filtration at GSA-owned services.

• In a March 2022 Administration Alert, we reported that air flow within the baby care heart within the GSA headquarters constructing was insufficient.37 Though GSA took motion to deal with insufficient air flow within the baby care heart, these efforts weren’t efficient. For instance, PBS depends on using window air conditioners to produce contemporary air to the middle. Nonetheless, the air conditioners weren’t in steady operation and offered solely negligible quantities of contemporary air. Moreover, we discovered that the open and shut levers for the contemporary air vents had been damaged for 3 out of 5 air conditioners.

• In September 2022, we reported that PBS was going through challenges in its efforts to enhance air filtration in GSA-regulated services to assist forestall publicity to COVID-19 within the office. Ageing HVAC methods cannot deal with MERV 13 air filters. As well as, PBS shouldn’t be persistently verifying that O&M contractors at GSA-owned services change air filters or meet preventive upkeep necessities for air dealing with items. We additionally discovered that PBS shouldn’t be regularly inspecting GSA-leased area to make sure that air filters meet lease necessities. In some circumstances, lessees used non-compliant air filters or didn’t change them recurrently. Because of this, PBS is utilizing air filters in some GSA-regulated services which are much less environment friendly at capturing airborne viruses, together with the virus that causes COVID-19.

water high quality

Low occupancy ranges allowed water stagnation at federal services in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 22, 2021, the CDC issued steerage, Reopening Buildings After Extended Shutdowns or Diminished Operations. The steerage states that “a short lived shutdown of a constructing (for instance, a faculty or childcare facility) or decreased operation and regular use of water, could pose a threat to occupants.” It additional requires an investigation into the hazards earlier than the constructing is reopened after an extended interval of inactivity. The CDC states that the “lengthy interval” for lead and copper contamination can vary from hours or days to weeks or months, relying on plumbing and water-specific components. The CDC additional states that durations of weeks or months of minimal water move, together with different components, can also facilitate the expansion of Legionella micro organism.

In September 2022, we issued a warning memo notifying GSA that PBS didn’t successfully take a look at water for contamination previous to the reopening of GSA baby care facilities that had been closed in the course of the pandemic.39 We discovered that almost all PBS did not take a look at the waters earlier than reopening the facilities. Youngster care heart closed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas PBS has examined the water in some baby care facilities, the testing was not widespread. Because of this, PBS doesn’t have assurances that kids and workers at baby care facilities have entry to protected consuming water.

As described above, challenges stay as GSAs and tenant companies return to services in higher numbers. Accordingly, GSA ought to proceed to observe and implement federal, state and native well being division steerage. GSA also needs to guarantee sufficient air flow and air filtration in GSA services and tackle the potential threat of contaminated water in services the place water has been decreased.

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