Returning to work – guidance for Registered Engineers

The HSE has provided the following guidance on returning to work safely

Reviewed 23rd July
Last updated 23rd July

Is it safe for me to work?

The government advice is that work in other people’s home, such as plumbing, electrical and gas work can continue.

How can I work safely in a customer’s home?

BEIS has produced guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) ‘ to advise you on how to work safely.

These are the actions that you should consider:

  1. Contact the householder before any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties.
    • Agree a fixed time for arrival and/or that you will telephone when you arrive so you can be let in safely.
    • Advise the areas within which you will probably be working e.g. the gas meter, the room within which the appliance to be worked upon is installed, possibly to inspect all installed gas appliances visually.
  2. Consider the details of the job to be completed, this will allow you to plan ahead and bring all tools, equipment and parts required, minimise the time spent at the property and avoid the need for multiple visits to the property.
  3. On the day of the work, call ahead to your customer to ask if they or any occupants have signs of the virus, have been diagnosed, or are self-isolating, and to check that they are happy for your visit to take place.
  4. Ask that households leave all internal doors open to minimise contact with door handles.
  5. Identify busy areas across the household where people travel to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors, and minimise movement within these areas.
  6. Bring your own food and drink to households and have breaks outside where possible.
  7. On entry to the property you should wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Consider carrying your own hand-towel with your equipment. Wash/replace your hand-towel at end of each day/shift.
  8. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should always carry this with you. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  9. Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  10. You should wash your hands regularly whilst in the property or use your hand sanitiser.
  11. Reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue.
  12. You should bag the tissue and take it away with you when you leave the property. Once you have bagged the tissue, you should wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use your hand sanitiser.
  13. To reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people, clean objects and surfaces you have touched, using your regular cleaning products. Do this on entering the property, whilst you are working and on leaving the property.
  14. Only use your own pen and do not share it with others, do not use other objects belonging to the householder whilst working in the property.
  15. Maintain good ventilation of the area you are working in; keep windows open if possible.
  16. At the end of your visit make sure that you take all personal belongings and tools with you, bag any waste, including any cleansing wipes etc. you may have used, and take it away with you. Dispose of any bagged waste in line with business process and/or Government guidance.
  17. When leaving the property, you should wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use your hand sanitiser.

Can I use the bathroom in a house I am working in?

Only use the householder’s own facilities where it is absolutely necessary and after gaining permission from the householder. Disinfect door handles, taps and toilets before and after use and ensure that you wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitiser if you cannot wash your hands. Consider carrying your own hand-towel with your equipment. Wash/replace your hand-towel at end of each day/shift.

I’ve been asked to carry out work in a household that is self-isolating/has COVID. What should I do?

If the work is routine, i.e. is not emergency repair work, this should be postponed until after the period of self-isolation/risk has passed. The period of isolation will be at least seven days; further information on isolation periods can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

If the work is to carry out an emergency repair (for example to make a gas system/appliance safe, or ensure heating and hot water is available), then this work can be carried out. Good hygiene will need to be maintained throughout the work. You should ensure that you/your employer has a detailed conversation with the household in advance to:

  • Consider the details of the job to be completed, this will allow you to plan ahead and bring all tools, equipment and parts required, minimise the time spent at the property and avoid the need for multiple visits to the property.
  • Discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties.
  • Agree a fixed time for arrival and/or that you will telephone when you arrive so you can be let in safely with minimum contact.
  • Anyone with COVID or any COVID symptoms should remain in another room for the duration of your visit.
  • Ask that households leave all internal doors open to minimise contact with door handles

On entry to the property you should:

  • Wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Consider carrying your own hand-towel with your equipment; wash/replace your hand-towel at end of each day/shift.

    Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should always carry this with you. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • You should wash your hands regularly whilst in the property or use your hand sanitiser.
  • Reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue.
  • You should bag the tissue and take it away with you when you leave the property. Once you have bagged the tissue, you should wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use your hand sanitiser.
  • To reduce the risk of infection, clean objects and surfaces before you start work, using your regular cleaning products. Do this on entering the property, whilst you are working and on leaving the property.
  • Do not use or share pens or other objects whilst working in the household.
  • Maintain good ventilation of the area you are working in; keep windows open if possible.
  • At the end of your visit make sure that you take all personal belongings and tools with you, bag any waste, including any cleansing wipes etc. you may have used, and take it away with you. Dispose of any bagged waste in line with business process and/or Government guidance.
  • When leaving the property, you should wash your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use your hand sanitiser.

 

I’ve been asked to carry out work in a household where there is a person who is clinically vulnerable. What should I do?

Advice from Government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically extremely vulnerable. More information can be found at

What a Landlord must do: Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.

If your tenant denies the engineer access to the property, you must arrange for the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible.

You must be able to demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to arrange and reschedule the gas safety check; HSE’s usual advice on gaining access applies in these circumstances:

  • leave the tenant a notice stating that an attempt was made to complete the gas safety check and provide your contact details;
    write to the tenant explaining that a safety check is a legal requirement and that it is for the tenant’s own safety. Give the tenant the opportunity to arrange their own appointment;
  • HSE inspectors will look for repeated attempts to complete the gas safety check, including the above suggestions; however, the approach will need to be appropriate to each circumstance.

We strongly advise that you keep records of communication and correspondence with the tenant, including emails and text messages if applicable.

What the engineer must do: You should conduct your own assessment of the risks before entering any property; if you have concerns that the tenants are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) you should not enter the property and the visit should be rearranged.

When you’re working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable, make prior arrangements to avoid any face-to-face contact.

On entering the property, you should be particularly vigilant in respect of good hygiene.

BEIS has produced guidance Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) to advise you on how to work safely.

In addition HSE has produced a guide https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/assets/docs/working-safely-guide.pdf to help you identify the risks and actions you should take to address these.

Do I need to use PPE/face coverings when working in people’s homes?

Face coverings are no longer required by law. However, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces. Where worn correctly, this may reduce the risk of transmission to themselves and others. More information is available at: Construction and other outdoor work - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Consider the public health regulations and guidance for the nation in which you are working. More information is available for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Householder is insisting I wear face coverings/PPE before they let me into their property. What should I do?

Face coverings are no longer required by law. However, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces. Where worn correctly, this may reduce the risk of transmission to themselves and others. More information is available at: Construction and other outdoor work - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4 - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Consider the public health regulations and guidance for the nation in which you are working. More information is available for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

  1. If there is a gas emergency situation - you should contact the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999. They have the power to make an unsafe situation safe, including a right of entry into premise.
  2. If the property is rented - you should advise the landlord that the tenant has refused you entry into the premises. The landlord can then follow the guidance for landlords available via the Gas Safe Register website

    https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance/landlords/

Advice for tenants:

  • I have been advised that I fall into the category of clinically extremely vulnerable and my landlord wants to come to my home to undertake the Landlord gas safety checks, what should I do?

Advice from government is that work can be carried out in homes of the clinically extremely vulnerable. More information can be found at

If you agree to allow a gas engineer into your home to carry out the safety checks, you should be aware that the engineer will follow the latest advice on Gov.uk, including guidance on safer working – other people’s homes.

If you decline access to your home for the gas safety checks to be undertaken, the landlord must rearrange the gas safety check to take place as soon as possible after your isolation period has ended.

Your landlord can find out more about what is expected of them in respect of gas safety checks at this time on the Gas Safe Register website.

In an emergency:
If you smell gas, or if you have concerns about the safety of your appliances, you should call the gas emergency service provider on 0800 111 999, and switch off appliances until the gas emergency supplier, or a registered gas engineer, has attended and advised that the appliances are safe to use.