With England having moved to Step 4 of the government’s coronavirus roadmap, the CIPHE has set out its guidance for gas engineers and plumbers.
It’s important to remember that coronavirus has not gone away. Whether you’re self-employed or an employer, you still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by your business, including the risk of Covid-19.
So, while legally some rules will be lifted, there will be many businesses, manufacturers, trade counters, and people who prefer to continue operating with some Covid-19 safety measures in place. With businesses free to enact their own policies, you may find that requirements change from trade counter to trade counter, job to job, site to site, or customer to customer.
The return to ‘normal’ comes with a number of caveats and, when it comes to work, the government is recommending that:
• Workspaces remain well ventilated
• High levels of personal hygiene and hand washing are continued
• Close personal contact is still minimised with those outside your household.
CIPHE membership director Tim Sainty says: “Our advice to members all the way through the pandemic has been to stay safe, protect themselves, protect their customers and protect those they go home to. This advice does not change with the lifting of restrictions.
“The government has essentially put management of coronavirus in our own hands. Whether you love or loathe masks and other Covid-19 safety measures, it is now down to us to manage the risk and learn to live within the pandemic. The CIPHE continues to advise members to assume that the premises they are working in, and the systems they are working on, contain the virus and act accordingly.
“The plumbing and heating industry has done a fantastic job so far through the pandemic, offering vital services to consumers, government, and many essential businesses. We recommend installers remain diligent and serious in their approach to the virus and discuss with clients – especially those who are vulnerable – what precautions will be in place before a job begins.
“Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a mainstay for those who work in trades and construction, so continuing to incorporate PPE that provide health and safety measures in respect of Covid-19 should be a relatively straightforward process.
“With cases rising, its not just about protecting health, but livelihoods too. The financial impact of self-isolation remains a big issue for the self-employed and so it’s vital that engineers risk assess each job before they undertake it. While the rules around self-isolation for those in contact with Covid cases will change for the double jabbed from 16 August, there will still be many in the industry who will be told to self-isolate over the coming months.
“Engineers should continue to ask clients if they have been in contact with coronavirus and never feel obliged to undertake work in a home or site where Covid-19 is present. For peace of mind, we would recommend engineers regularly undertake lateral flow tests and immediately obtain a PCR test if they develop symptoms.”
You can download copy of a risk assessment and find out more about safe working practices here.