With the mixed messages seemingly being offered by the government and nobody 100% sure exactly what is the ‘responsible’ thing to do in a world where we’ve been told to go back to work, but ‘stay alert’ at all times, it’s an understandably confusing time for gas and electrical engineers.
These are individuals who have spent their lives learning a trade that brings them in close contact with the public every day. These are not jobs it is possible to do in isolation.
This is why there has been so much fuss kicked up over the last few weeks by those who want to return to work but don’t know how to do so safely.
There are countless guides online for landlords and homeowners on how to cope with social distancing measures, but when it comes to any tips for the engineers themselves, the pickings are slim. That’s why we’ve put together a little guide just for those of us who have the most to potentially lose in this situation if we get it wrong.
Conduct a risk assessment
The first thing you should do if you are called up for an inspection is to ask the client whether or not they have experienced symptoms of COVID-19, are self-isolating or are classed as vulnerable citizens.
If the answer to any of these questions is even slightly positive then you should avoid the property at all costs for their safety and your own. The risk assessment will also involve asking whether or not it will be possible for you to stay two metres apart from property residents.
Ask if it’s urgent
Right now, only urgent checks should be attempted. Whilst government guidelines remain vague, it is common sense to steer clear of confined spaces with people who you don’t live with as much as possible.
British Gas has suspended all non-emergency appointments including annual LGSRs and you should probably do likewise. At least for now.
Don’t be afraid to make reasonable demands
Whilst you’re technically a guest in somebody else’s home, you are also there at their behest and you are there to do a job – a job that puts you at serious risk if the right precautions are not taken and the right steps are not followed.
Don’t feel awkward about asking residents to step into another room whilst you work or to open windows in the room you’re working in.
If you can get your hands on some PPE then please remember to wear it whilst you’re working. It can be uncomfortable, we understand – but it’s a precaution that’s more than worth taking.
And while this is undoubtedly a mantra you’re sick of hearing by this point (you’re not alone, we all are) but remember to wash your hands and to do so regularly. Also, try to keep your hands away from your face wherever possible.
Have a plan of attack
You want to get in, get out and do your job as efficiently as possible without wasting any more time on the property than necessary. This means having a plan ahead of you for every job. Ask about the layout of the property, where the appliances you’re expected to check and stores and where the hand washing facilities are.
Also, keeping a container of hand sanitiser on your person at all times certainly won’t harm you. Finally, phone ahead and ask the residents to keep the working space clear before your visit and don’t be afraid to cancel an inspection if you have any even minor symptoms of the virus yourself.
These are uncertain times and in such uncertain timers, vigilance is always key. Electrical, heating and plumbing contractors are going to need to work together over the coming months as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’.
But as long as common sense is utilised and we help each other out, we’ll be smiling on the other side of this crisis before you know it.