Government gives updated advice to tradespeople working in people’s homes and on building sites
The Government has updated the guidance on social distancing in the workplace, which now offers more detail on the procedures tradespeople should follow when entering people’s homes.
A representative from BEIS told Installer that the Government is working on further guidance to support employees, employers and the self-employed on how to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will keep you updated on its development.
Working in people’s homes as a tradesperson
You are a tradesperson carrying out essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes. You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or when someone in their own household has symptoms.
Tradespeople should assess whether the visit is essential or if the work can be safely postponed. There may be alternatives to a visit, such as a phone or video call. If the visit cannot be postponed you should agree the procedures in advance.
During a visit
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.
If you are a tradesperson or cleaner, 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.
If you are a nanny, you should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from the household occupants you are not providing care for as much as possible.
If someone in the household is extremely vulnerable or has coronavirus symptoms
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless your work is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repair, or if a young child’s parents must attend an emergency hospital appointment.
Tradespeople undertaking work that needs to go ahead in a household which is self-isolating or where an individual is being shielded should take additional steps to ensure the safety of the customer and themselves:
- you should ask the householders to stay in a separate room while the work is carried out. If this is not possible, they should stay as far away from you as possible
prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact – for example, when answering the door
- you should be particularly strict about hand washing and respiratory hygiene. Once the work is completed, you should tell the customer which surfaces and areas you have come in to contact with. However, you should carry out this cleaning yourself prior to leaving. Read the guidance on cleaning and waste.No work should be carried out by a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or where someone in their household has symptoms.
Construction work plays an important role in ensuring public safety and the provision of public services. It can continue if done in accordance with the social distancing guidelines wherever possible.
Where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the site to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.
If you decide the work should go ahead, you should advise staff to wash their hands frequently using soap and water for 20 seconds, and especially after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing, on arrival at work, before and after eating, after using public transport, and when they arrive home. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used.
You should still advise staff to keep 2 metres apart as much as possible.
You should plan work to minimise contact between workers and avoid skin-to-skin and face-to-face contact. Where face-to-face contact is essential, this should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible.
As much as possible, keep groups of workers working together in teams that are as small as possible (cohorting). For example, you keep vehicle crews working together, rather than mixing crew members on different shifts.
Staff should also wash their hands each time before getting into enclosed machinery (such as diggers) with others, and wash their hands every time they get out. To help with this, you should consider adding additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities, providing soap, water and/or hand sanitiser.
Employees should keep the windows of enclosed machinery or enclosed spaces open for ventilation and be careful to avoid touching their face at all times. The inside of cabs should be regularly cleaned, particularly between use by different operators.
You should try to use stairs in preference to lifts or hoists. Where lifts or hoists must be used, you should lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times, and regularly clean touchpoints, such as doors and buttons.
To protect your staff, you should remind colleagues daily to only come into work if they are well and no one in their household is self-isolating.
The Construction Leadership Council has published more detailed advice on how you might carry out government guidance.
Additional useful information for firms can be accessed on BuildUK’s website.