While some plumbing companies have announced they will require operatives to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the efficacy of this to protect householders is unclear, says Stopcocks Women Plumbers founder Hattie Hasan.
She says that while we’re all waiting for the vaccines to bring this crisis under control, it’s especially important to consider the implications of our actions and choices. Hattie is calling for business leaders to fully lead by taking a thought-out approach rather than giving knee-jerk reactions. She suggests we avoid reactions that could increase fear and mistrust.
“We need to carefully consider the implications of our actions. Householders could be frightened into demanding vaccination certificates, and might tradespeople demand them from householders?” she says.
Plumbers, heating engineers and electricians, in particular, who deal with urgent and emergency situations, are highly aware that they’re both personally at risk and could also pose a threat to householders, which is why they’ve been at the forefront of safer practices since the Covid-19 crisis began.
It’s too early to know whether the vaccines prevent transmission through contact, or if they only protect those who’ve been vaccinated. Medical guidelines in favour of safe working practices – safe distances, hand and surface cleaning and wearing a mask – which include householders as well as tradespeople all taking responsibility, are more helpful, especially since many of us won’t receive the second dose of vaccinations until the end of 2021, says Hattie.
She believes the current health crisis can be used positively to help customers and tradespeople stay safe rather than knee-jerk reactions that increase fear. She says: “Many tradespeople we’ve spoken to are unhappy that ’no jab, no job’ requirements invade their civil liberties, and could be disruptive.
“Will tradespeople refuse to enter households where people haven’t been vaccinated? It could be a slippery slope. Virtually all the tradeswomen we’ve spoken to are very keen to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but they’re also unhappy that some bosses are suggesting they ‘must’ receive vaccinations to remain working.”
Most tradespeople don’t fall within the age range to receive the vaccines for some time, and insistence on vaccines will only serve to compound the existing economic deprivation felt because of the current crisis. Hattie says a better look at safety overall is called for, including and beyond the current health crisis, “Only then can we come up with guidelines for behaviour that will work over time and for all of us.”
Hattie Hasan is founder of the National Register of Tradeswomen, which is due to launch on 1 March 2021.