Identified as key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, installers and Gas Safe engineers have continued to keep the nation's homes safe, warm and cosy. ‘Freedom day’ (Monday 19th July) is upon us which means many restrictions have been lifted across England. It’s no wonder many are wondering what this means for their (and their customers’) health and safety.
Coronavirus is something we are bound to have to live with, even with the vaccination drive. Helping to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to a minimum is key. There are a few things installers can continue to do when at work, carrying out home visits and conducting Gas Safe inspections to keep some safety precautions in place.
Here at Ideal Heating, we have put together some top tips to ensure you stay safe at work and feel supported as several restrictions ease for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Ventilation is Key
A well-ventilated workspace or home will bring in fresh and clean air, diluting airborne viruses. If your space is poorly ventilated traces of the virus will remain, increasing the risk of COVID-19 spreading. You can easily maximise the ventilation within your work area by completing the following actions:
- Conduct a risk assessment to identify any poorly ventilated areas and take the essential steps to improve this.
- Fully or even partially open air vents, doors and windows.
- Turn on any mechanical vent systems and ensure they’re on the maximum settings to ensure any additional fresh air is brought into your surroundings.
- Encourage the use of work in outdoor areas, if this is practicable for your business.
Reduce Contact for Workers & Customers
As of Monday 19th July social distancing is no longer legally enforceable and there are no legal limits on social contact between people in different households - but this does not mean COVID-19 won’t continue to spread if additional safety precautions aren’t considered.
If you are able to reduce the number of people you or your employees come into contact with, this will help to minimise the risk of transmission. There are many simple ways to reduce the risk of the virus spreading within the workplace, including:
- Use fixed teams to help reduce the number of people each person has contact with.
- Review layouts, use screens to separate people within the work space, and try to avoid colleagues working face-to-face.
- Try to assign work stations to one individual, where possible, and if shared ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
How to Stay Safe During a Home Visit
If you are providing a professional service or carrying out a Gas Safe inspection in someone else's home you should communicate with the household beforehand to discuss how the work will be carried out to reduce risks for both parties.
Even after 19th July, work should not be carried out if anyone within the household is isolating and you should try to avoid face-to-face contact whilst also being strict on handwashing and cleaning.
When conducting a home visit you should continue to consider the following steps to limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Ask the household to leave open any internal doors you may need to use beforehand, helping avoid contact with door handles.
- Try to take any breaks outside.
- Limit the number of workers within a confined space.
- Safely dispose of any waste.
- Allocate the same worker to the same household for each visit where possible.
- Deep-clean the spaces you have worked in within the house before leaving.
Remember to Keep Your Workspaces Clean
Whilst working you should always ensure to clean your workspace before, during and after to limit the spread of any viruses. Cleaning work areas and equipment between use, adding additional protection around machines, frequently cleaning surfaces that are regularly in use, and removing any waste from the work stations at the end of each shift will all help limit the risk of transmission.
Within your workspace you should continue to undertake enhanced cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise that enters your site via an external supplier. Even after restrictions lift, continue to extend the cleaning procedures to shared equipment, tools and vehicles, whilst also encouraging people to wash and sanitise their hands before and after using any tools, handling goods and entering vehicles.
Enclosed surroundings may result in increased risk of COVID-19 spreading, but this can be managed. Ensuring adequate ventilation through open windows and doors and stating that all surface areas need to be cleaned after facilities have been used will help to limit the risks. You should also still make sure hand sanitiser is available on entry and exit.
Are Face Coverings Still Mandatory?
In short, no - but it’s strongly advised that you should continue to use PPE if you are already using it within your work to protect against the spread of COVID-19. If you are installing or carrying out an inspection within a clinical setting, PPE is mandatory and should be worn at all times even after step four goes ahead on the 19th July.
By law, face coverings will no longer be required, however the government recommends that people continue to wear them when in crowded, enclosed spaces. When a face covering is worn correctly it may reduce the risk of transmission to individuals and those around them, therefore some workers may choose to continue wearing face masks.
As an installer you should consider wearing a face covering when doing a home visit and carrying out a Gas Safe inspection, perhaps asking your customer before entering if they wish for you to wear one.
Ensure you always have a spare pack of face coverings in your vehicles and toolkits - grab yours from Connect today.
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