8 April 2020

Work can continue, but not if you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms and only if you feel comfortable to do so.

Ensure that full PPE is worn, including a mask before entering a customer’s home.

It is essential to stay two metres away from other people.

Frequently wash your hands, including as soon as you get home.

It’s safe to say that the last few weeks have been amongst the most eventful in British history. In a matter of days, the country has moved from stern advice to stay at home, to a full-scale national lockdown. Never before has so much happened in such a short period of time. Now, with a large proportion of the country forced to stay at home, it is essential that those still required to carry on working can do so safely. At Alpha Heating Innovation, we commend the commitment of all key-workers, including gas and heating engineers conducting essential works on domestic and commercial properties. We understand that it has been a turbulent time and appreciate ever-changing government advice has made it difficult to know what work is and isn’t allowed. As such, we have put together an up-to date guide for installers on how to carry out work in the current climate.
To begin with, it’s important to clarify that work carried out in people’s homes is still currently allowed to continue. This rule applies to work carried out by tradespeople, including repairs and maintenance, although planned maintenance like services are dicsouraged. However, if you’re showing any coronavirus symptoms, it’s essential that you cancel upcoming jobs and remain at home. This provision includes even mild symptoms, which may not greatly affect you, but could cause serious harm in others. Once again, the symptoms to look out for are a fever, tiredness and a dry cough. If you are showing symptoms, it is essential to stay at home for at least seven days, if you live alone or two weeks if you live with others.
Similarly, work is generally not allowed to continue at any household where a member is self-isolating, or where an individual is being ‘shielded’ due to being high risk. Around 1.3 million people in Britain are considered ‘high-risk’ to the coronavirus pandemic and are currently being asked to remain indoors for a period of four months. Therefore, it’s now essential to call ahead before arriving at a property to confirm whether anyone is self-isolating, whether anyone has been in contact with a coronavirus sufferer, or if anyone has recently been ‘shielded’ under the government’s provisions. If the answer is yes, then most basic repairs and maintenances will be at this point cancelled and re-scheduled for a later date.
Whilst most jobs on affected households are currently postponed, the government has left in provisions for cases that “remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs”. Crucially however, this only applies in situations where the tradesperson is willing to do the work. As such, it is important that those in the sector know they can refuse jobs they do not feel safe carrying out. If you’re willing to do the work, Public Health England can provide advice and assistance on how to best protect yourself.
Alongside the Gas Safety Register, the government has prepared some advice for how tradespeople can work safely in people’s homes. These guidelines are as follows:

Ensure that full personal protective equipment is worn before entering a property, this should in-clude a mask, gloves and visor. If possible, dispose of the equipment after each visit and put on new gear.
Avoid touching surfaces where possible and ensure frequent hand-washing with soap or use of alcohol hand sanitising gel.
Keep to a minimum of two metres apart from other people.

At Alpha Heating Innovation, we are continuing to attend breakdowns following a call with the customer to assess the risk to the engineer. All our engineers have also been issued with additional PPE and guidelines on how to stay safe. Furthermore, we have postponed all planned maintenance, including annual services, in order to comply with government restrictions, allowing us to put all resources where it is most needed.
For the time-being, we would advise all engineers to follow the same advice as well as recommending some additional measures. Unfortunately, in the current climate, it is probably best to avoid having a cup of tea or any other kind of refreshment at someone’s home – instead take supplies with you. What is more, when you get home it is probably best to immediately remove and wash all of your clothing as the virus can live on surfaces including clothing for several days. Taking these steps won’t guarantee that you don’t catch the virus, but they will dramatically improve your chances. In the meantime, remember to stay safe and only work where and when you feel comfortable. If you need any support, the Government is continuing to add additional resources to its website, and we will also be on hand if you need any guidance.
For more information on how Alpha specifically is responding to the coronavirus outbreak, please click here.