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John Agnew

Jo(h)nnies - Be Good  

The two Jo(h)nnies, Agnew of the GGF and Vanstone of Certass, have told Installers they should behave wisely and in accordance with guidance as construction sites and occupied homes' advice became muddied.

Following reported confusion around the issue of whether or not companies can work in domestic properties, the GGF has contacted the government with some of the key questions raised by GGF Members. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis the GGF has been strictly aligned to the guidance issued by Public Health England (PHE) and the Health & Safety Executive. These guidelines were published on the GGF website on 8th April and cited in numerous subsequent GGF articles which included a direct link through to the government web page on social distancing In addition, the GGF has been careful not to get embroiled in speculation and interpretations, which have led to unfounded rumours.

"These are serious issues and poor advice could in the worst case lead to loss of life and companies potentially facing very difficult legal positions." says John Agnew. "The GGF position remains, as it has been since the outbreak of Covid-19 and that is that companies must follow government and PHE Guidance on working in construction and in people’s homes and if working in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales to follow devolved governments’ guidance, before taking any decision to carry out installation, repair or maintenance work," says

 

At the end of April, Jon Vanstone chair of the Certass Trade Association, wrote to a number of people including all members stating: 'I was invited to the Working in People’s Homes (tradespersons) group by Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, where I was able to voice concerns from the glazing industry directly to him. 'We have now gained real clarity on the difference between ‘construction’ and ‘working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny’.

 

The updated rules on Working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny are published below in full but can also be found within the government's social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus guidance at https://www.gov.uk

Vanstone's letter continued: "Note the wording in this statement – essential repairs and maintenance – this is in line with the advice that Certass has given to members, to protect themselves and their customers'. We have tabled further specific questions to Government so we can advise installers who are still working as to what is acceptable during lockdown and most importantly, we are working with government on guidelines we can make available to installers as we start to return to work."


John Agnew sayss: "Since 30 April, the GGF has sought and gained further clarity from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and reiterates that companies must follow the latest guidance as follows:"

  • In unoccupied properties work can continue, only if it is safe to do so but companies must adhere to the Social Distancing guidance.

  • In occupied properties, only essential repair or maintenance work should be carried out and only if it is safe to do so and is carried out strictly in line with the Social Distancing guidance.

Agnew says: "It is worth noting that the term 'essential' can be defined as work required on a building where the occupants’ health and safety could be at risk. For example, this could be a damaged window or door, or a window or door that may be beyond repair and require replacement. Work that should not be undertaken includes non-essential home improvements inside occupied properties. This could include work such as upgrading windows and doors, decorative glazing and roof lights - unless deemed an essential replacement.

"On new build and housebuilding, the government guidance shows this can continue, if it is safe to do so and in line with guidance on social distancing and the site operating procedures (SOP) published by the Construction Leadership Council. The latest version of SOP was published on the GGF website on 15 April."


No confusion - here is the government advice in full

 

Working In People’s Homes As A Tradesperson, Cleaner Or Nanny

You are a tradesperson carrying out essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes, or are carrying out other work in a home such as cleaning or paid-for childcare in a child’s home. 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.

  • 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

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. www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk


Additional useful information for firms can be accessed on BuildUK’s website. https://builduk.org


Manufacturing And Processing Businesses

Manufacturing plays an important role in the economy. 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 business to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.

If you decide the work should continue, staff should work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face if possible.

You should increase the frequency of cleaning procedures, pausing production in the day if necessary for cleaning staff to wipe down workstations with disinfectant.

You should assign staff to the same shift teams to limit social interaction.

You should not allow staff to congregate in break times; you should consider arrangements such as staggered break times so that staff can continue to practice social distancing when taking breaks.

You should communicate to all staff that they should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more at the beginning and end of every break, when they arrive at work and before they leave. To help with this, you should consider adding additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities, providing soap, water and/or hand sanitiser.

When entering and leaving, you should ensure your workforce stays 2 metres apart as much as possible. 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.

 

 


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