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What could the COVID-19 rebuild strategy mean for UK's heating engineers

What does the government's 50-page document outlining a route back to normality mean for heating engineers asks David Holmes, founder of Boiler Guide.

David Holmes, founder of Boiler Guide

As of May 13, those unable to work from home are being ‘actively encouraged’ to return to work. Heating engineers were given ‘key worker’ status when lockdown began meaning that they could continue to work. Now, this recent government announcement has signaled a return to the job for many heating engineers who have been unable to work during lockdown. Despite a return to work being encouraged, it’s well worth stressing that anyone showing symptoms should continue to isolate.

Entering people’s homes is an essential part of a heating engineer’s job and employers have a responsibility to reduce workplace risk to 'the lowest reasonably practicable level'. To achieve this, government guidance must be followed with the appropriate precautions being taken. These steps to ensure safety have seen heating engineers having to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in terms of how they work.

Carrying out work in people’s homes used to mean regular interaction with the occupier. Now, to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, face-to-face contact must be kept to an absolute minimum and avoided should the customer be particularly vulnerable. Heating engineers can limit the time spent in a property by embracing technology. Video calls, for example, can be useful for diagnosing issues and providing a quote, removing that initial visit. Additionally, rather than knocking on the door when you arrive at the property, avoid any contact by giving the customer a call, alerting them to your arrival, so that social distancing can be maintained.

Once in the property, hygiene must be a top priority. Government guidance advises that anyone working in people’s homes should continue to wear any personal protective equipment (PPE) they would have done before the outbreak. However, as the Coronavirus is a different type of risk normally faced by tradespeople, additional measures must also be taken. These precautions should include washing hands more regularly, cleaning surfaces and maintaining a social distance of two metres from anyone in the property.

Employers will need to bear in mind that many people are due back to work ahead of the schools reopening. This is going to present a problem for members of their workforce who are parents and carers. So, flexible working arrangements may need to be arranged.

Adjusting to a new way of working might feel daunting to some heating engineers so employers must ensure they're providing employees with the right advice and necessary equipment. And these measures could become commonplace for those working in the heating industry once lockdown is eventually lifted. Heating engineers have adapted their service to continue working in homes through these unprecedented times, setting a stellar example in the process. 

20 May 2020

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