As lockdown measures begin to relax around the country and more people return to work, you may be wondering where that leaves you as a tradesman. The government has maintained that those in the oil, gas, electricity, and water industries are considered critical workers, and thus able to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic. However, this still may lead to some confusion about when, where, and how you can complete your work.
For example, if you get an emergency callout to fix a customer’s boiler that’s suddenly broken down, you will need to know exactly which precautions you will need to take to keep everyone safe from the potential spread of COVID-19. Here, we’ll go through everything you need to be aware of and what you should probably consider in order to keep you and others safe.
Which tradesmen can still work?
The majority of tradespeople are still able to work, including those in construction and manufacturing, cleaners, and tradespeople who work in people’s homes, as these jobs are all impossible to complete remotely. The government has, however, made it clear that no worker should feel unsafe at work, and employers are being urged to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments to ease their teams’ safe return to work. While this is much easier to do if you’re working on a construction site, being called out to attend someone’s home makes it more difficult to carry out the necessary health and safety tests in advance.
What are the rules for working as a tradesman during lockdown?
We recommend carrying out your own due diligence when it comes deciding whether to return to work following lockdown. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you should continue to self-isolate, and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and others while working if you do feel fine. This includes wearing PPE, as well as regularly sanitising your hands with gel. In any case, if your client doesn’t feel comfortable or safe with letting you complete your work, they may refuse entry to their home, meaning you won’t be able to complete the job and get paid.
You should also continue to practice social distancing from anyone else who isn’t in your household. This may initially be difficult to get used to — especially when introducing yourself to customers — but it’s crucial to follow these measures as closely as possible, especially before restrictions are completely eased.
If you’re a business owner with a team of employees, you should think carefully about the health risks of your staff as a whole. If any of your employees are considered clinically vulnerable, you must take extra care to either give them the safest jobs to complete, or keep them off rota until it’s safer for them to return to work.
When returning to work as a tradesman, you should follow these steps as closely as possible:
- Wash and sanitise your hands and work surfaces frequently.
- Maintain two metres distance between yourself and others, where reasonable. If your job requires you to work closely with a partner, you should try and complete the work as quickly as you can, and avoid working face to face.
- Wear appropriate PPE, such as face masks or shields and disposable gloves.
- Work with the same team or partner for every job in an attempt to minimise the spread of the virus.
- Install screens or barriers around your work area.
- Clean and sanitise all of your tools and equipment after each use/job.
- Remove your waste and belongings from the workspace following each shift, and sanitise the areas.
Looking after your clients during lockdown
As well as tracking your own health, you should also ask your clients about the wellbeing of their household as a whole. For example, if someone in the household is vulnerable, you may wish to put a hold on completing the work in order to minimise any risk. You should also ask if anyone in the household has displayed any symptoms of COVID-19 in the previous two weeks. The government has stated that any household that is self-isolating should not have any work carried out by a tradesperson.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the work carried out is to fix an immediate risk to the household’s safety — such as emergency plumbing or repairs — you’re able to complete it as long as you’re willing to enter the house.