An image of the COVID-19 virus

Coronavirus: guidance on responsibilities

The latest advice from Gas Safe Register is at:
www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/ 

Updated 9 April 2020
Work carried out in people’s homes
The government has said that work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out essential repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2m distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild. Registered businesses should conduct their own assessment of the risks before entering any property.

• You should notify all clients in advance of your arrival.
• On entry to the home, you should wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, and when leaving the property. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should carry this with you at all times.
• You should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from any household occupants at all times, and ensure good ventilation in the area where you are working, including opening the window.
• Maintain your Gas Safe registration.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector-guidance

Full guidance on precautions to take to avoid transferring or contracting the virus can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

And: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings


Maintaining ACS qualifications

While engineers are expected to take all reasonable measures to maintain their ACS qualifications, including planning ahead where possible, Gas Safe Register appreciates that the current situation means this is not feasible.

If engineers take all reasonable steps to update their expired ACS certification as soon as possible after the restrictions are lifted, and continue to work safely, HSE will permit registered gas engineers to remain on the Register for an additional period during the peak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) measures. Engineers may be required to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to renew their qualifications.

Engineers must maintain their Gas Safe registration during any extension of their ACS qualification period if they are carrying out gas work.

This is a temporary measure and does not remove the standing requirement for registered gas engineers to maintain their ACS certification and renew certification every five years.

Landlords’ gas safety record checks
Updated 9 April 2020

COVID-19: HE advice for landlords on gas safety checks
Note: This information is intended to inform landlords: remember that gas engineers are not responsible for landlords’ gas safety record checks being in place.

The HSE has provided a wealth of new information for landlords, including a variety of scenarios that may help provide some clarity for those concerned for their wellbeing or the wellbeing of their customers.

Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, there is a balance between ensuring people, including the vulnerable, are protected from possibly fatal risks arising from CO exposure or gas explosion, while doing what we can to protect people from COVID-19.

Current guidance from HM Government states that work can still be carried out in people’s homes where necessary, eg, for reasons of safety, provided that the GOV.UK guidance on social distancing is followed. See ‘Advice for engineers’ for guidance for engineers and their employers regarding working in peoples’ homes.

The law is flexible and where it is not possible to carry out a gas safety check, it will normally be enough to show that you took reasonable steps to do so. In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, eg, refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This should include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.

Landlords should not suspend all gas safety checks at this time as it will unnecessarily put tenants at increased risk, particularly as people are spending most, and in some cases, all of their time at home. Each property should be considered on a case-by-case basis, completing safety checks where tenants permit access and gas engineers are available. If you are unable to secure the services of your usual engineers, you must make reasonable attempts to obtain alternative services. Where you cannot and resource has to be prioritised you can do so, taking into account factors such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • The age and type of appliances
  • Previous maintenance/work carried out
  • Breakdown history
  • The presence of CO alarms, and
  • Whether the tenant is considered vulnerable for reasons other than risk from COVID-19.

The HSE has provided several example scenarios to help landlords understand what may be considered reasonable steps to take, to demonstrate compliance with their duties to have appliances checked annually during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The list is not exhaustive and landlords must assess the risks for each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Registration fees
Updated 9 April 2020

The Gas Safe Register is a mandatory registration scheme, and all engineers who are working on gas must be registered and carry their licence card in order to work legally in the UK.

If you are working and need to be registered, registration fees may be paid by monthly Direct Debit, spreading the cost across the year.

If you are due to renew your registration, you may choose to cease gas work and your registration during the current period; and, provided you let us know, we will waive re-application fees when you re-register and start working again, as long as this is within 12 weeks of their/ your original registration date.

Inspections
Gas Safe Register is currently only conducting inspections into high-risk scenarios, as determined on a case-by-case basis with the HSE. All other inspections will be held and prioritised to be scheduled once the restrictions are lifted.

Gas Safe Register has paused all its routine Inspection Events for the time being, and is looking at suitable alternatives to attending an event in person. More details of these will be communicated as soon as they have been decided.

Where inspections must take place, inspectors are taking a range of precautions to protect the public and engineers that they come into contact with, as well as themselves.  These are based on the guidance provided on Gov.uk, and include:

  • Personal protective equipment, frequent handwashing with soap or use of alcohol-based hand sanitising gel.
  • Inspectors visiting sites will confirm prior to entering the property whether anyone is anyone is self-isolating, or has been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID19 or has recently gone into self-isolation.
  • If the answer is yes, then the inspection will be cancelled and recorded as an aborted visit and held for rescheduling at a later date.
  • In addition, if the inspector visiting a site suspects anything that makes them feels uncomfortable with the situation, then they can retreat from site and follow the steps above.

In accordance with government guidance, any member of Gas Safe Register staff residing in a household where another person has symptoms, or is presenting symptoms themselves, will self-isolate for 14 days.

Customer signatures
Regulation 36 of the GSIUR relating to Landlord Gas Safety Records does not specify that a signature is required from the recipient, only from the engineer undertaking the safety checks.

Gas Safe Register service
Due to the COVID-19 situation, Gas Safe Register is currently operating a limited service as it has closed its main office (25 March 2020 until further notice) to support efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.     

All Gas Safe Register’s services are available online, at www.gassaferegister.co.uk, or you can email us with your query to register@gassaferegister.co.uk.

Gas Safe Register continues to operate the HSE Gas Safety Advice line on 0800 300 363. Please be aware response times are currently longer and consumers may need to leave a voicemail message, so that they can call back.

Please check for updates regularly here, at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk and follow us on Twitter: @GasSafeRegister and @RGEMag

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