Questions still remain around the subject of allowing tradespeople such as plumbers into the home. Whilst UK lockdown measures to stem the spread of coronavirus will be gradually eased over the coming months, some questions around the safety of doing so arise. Are we ready to let someone in our house and maintain social distancing at all times?

If you are wondering about the rules surrounding social distancing and how to keep yourself safe when in need of plumbing or gas related work, read on for helpful advice.

What does current government advice say on social distancing?

The current official advice is for everyone to practice social distancing at all times whilst in public. This means maintaining a two-metre distance between yourself and anyone who doesn't normally live within your household. In situations where this is not possible, non-medical grade personal protective equipment, i.e. some form of face covering, should be worn.

Where a tradesperson has a need to enter a home, it may not always be possible to maintain a two-metre distance from the homeowner. This means a face covering should be worn by both parties. You will find that professional, respected, plumbers will be wearing both face coverings and disposable gloves as a matter of course.
What to consider when hiring a plumber to carry out work in my home?

What to consider when hiring a plumber to carry out work in my home?

The first thing to think about is whether the work you need undertaking is absolutely essential.

Any issue that may pose a direct risk to the safety of your home is, of course, classed as essential. A burst pipe or a leak, for example, is something that simply cannot wait. Blockages also need to be dealt with urgently because they could lead to more severe issues. A blocked drain, for example, can result in flooding, as well as stagnant water, which is a health risk.

Also, essential are heating and hot water. If there is a problem with a radiator or boiler that is preventing you from having access to either of these, you can definitely class that as essential.

The best thing to do is ask a knowledgeable, experienced plumber. They will know instantly whether an issue can wait or whether it requires urgent attention. Some will offer a video call so that you can show them the problem without face-to-face contact. That way, they will be able to advise you on any immediate steps you may be able to take. They'll also provide you with a cost estimate, all without the need to attend your property, so reducing the amount of contact necessary.

What happens if I am self-isolating or shielding and I need a plumber?

The government has said that no work can be carried out in any household that is self-isolating due to one or more members presenting symptoms. The same goes for households where occupants are shielding. The only exception to this rule is where there is a need to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. Examples are an emergency plumbing or repairs, as discussed above.

You will need to let the tradesperson know in advance whether you are self-isolating, so that they can make their own decision as to whether they wish to attend. If they are prepared to do so, they will need to undertake a risk assessment to ensure work can be performed safely when they do visit.

Where someone in the household is vulnerable but not shielding, for example they are over the age of 70, this should also be relayed to the tradesperson ahead of their visit. In this way, they can make arrangements in advance to avoid face-to-face contact. The government says that those who are shielding must be very strict about handwashing and coughing and sneezing hygiene.

What steps to take if I really do need a plumber to attend my home?

If there is nothing else for it and you really do need the help of a plumber, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others in your household:

  • Maintain a minimum two-metre distance between yourself and the tradesperson and avoid any physical contact
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with unwashed hands
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect any frequently touched surfaces and objects such as light switches, door handles and your kettle

What social distancing and hygiene measures should my plumber take?

Your plumber should:

  • Check in advance whether any members of your household are self-isolating or shielding, or whether there are any vulnerable household members
  • Carry out a risk assessment where necessary
  • Wash their hands on arrival with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Wash their hands regularly, especially after sneezing, blowing their nose or coughing
  • Maintain a distance of at least two metres from all members of the household at all times
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as a face covering and disposable gloves whilst working in your home
  • Ensure there is a good level of ventilation in the area in which they are working, for example by opening a window
  • Wash their hands with soap and water on leaving. Tradespeople should always carry their own hand sanitiser with them to use where soap and water are not available.

If you have any concerns as to whether your tradesperson is taking appropriate safety measures, you should think carefully before you allow them entry to your home.

Plumbwise: Committed to Service, Committed to Safety

At Plumbwise, we have worked hard for many years to build a reputation as trusted London plumbers. To ensure the safety of our valued customers - and of our team - we have put strict measures in place regarding hygiene and social distancing, all in line with government guidelines on working in customers’ homes.

If you have a plumbing or gas boiler emergency, or any issue that is causing you concern, you are welcome to contact us for helpful, tailored advice. Give us a call on 0333 016 4117 or drop us a line.

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