Guidance and Risk Assessments are crucial to jobs as government gives go-ahead for working in people’s homes.
Just as many were perhaps getting to grips with the situation and realities of lockdown, within its latest guidance (11th May) the government has given the green light for installers and fitters to work in homes, subject to a number of conditions being met and centred around a stringent Risk Assessment / Method Statement being in place to protect both workers and the occupants of the home.
Whilst the new guidance included in the Working in Other People’s Homes section may be perceived as a welcome boost for tradespeople who are no doubt wanting to get back to work so they can begin generating cashflow and ultimately protect their businesses, the announcement has also brought confusion for many and is at odds with a lot of the advice and guidance installers have received and adapted to in the previous weeks.
This point was echoed by Jon Vanstone, Chair of Certass TA, which recently released its COVID Secure Procedures for Installers Working in the Home guidance pack, and following the government’s announcement has produced a Risk Assessment to assist members. Jon explained to Total Installer: “There’s no clarity on the liability – clearer information needs to be given to installers. They (Gov) judge tradespeople in the home as if they have all the skills of a construction worker – but trades working in the home have different levels of knowledge when it comes to health and safety etc.”
So whilst Certass TA has provided comprehensive guidance – including the crucial Risk Assessment – for its members, Jon fears this won’t be the case across the board: “We are going to be living and working with this virus in the UK for at least the next 12 months. Through my participation in Government steering groups, it was clear that the delivery of advice for installers needed to be driven by industry. As the only glazing representative in these discussions, responsibility fell to Certass Trade Association.” Jon continued: “The pack is designed to help installers maintain social distancing, keep contact with homeowners to a minimum and prove that they have taken necessary steps to reduce risk for all parties.
“We have stayed in close contact with installers and trade fabricators during the lockdown period and the overriding request was for clear, practical help and information that will help them get their business back to work. This is what we have delivered.”
This demand for support and clarity from industry has been echoed by installers in forums and on social media, who despite reporting demand from homeowners and strong lead generation, still remain reluctant to begin work in the home. Despite this, some remain happy to do so and point to the application of “common sense” – which is no doubt important, but isn’t enough on its own to ensure the safety of both installers and homeowners, and ultimately prevent a dreaded second spike in coronavirus.
So, with regards to Certass members and, alongside the government guidance, would Jon advise members to be working in occupied homes? He offered a note of caution: “Whilst we can’t make the choice for installers and we can’t indemnify you, we can say if you follow the guidance we can support you – if you follow what we have put out there, we will stand with you if there is a problem.”