No matter what job you’re working in, health & safety should come first.
Depending on your area of work, as a tradesperson, you may often find yourself working in other people’s homes. While they’re generally a safe place to be, there are still risks to be aware of and precautions to take. From an electric shock while fixing faulty wiring to uncovering asbestos in a loft, there are hidden and unexpected dangers.
Keeping yourself and homeowners safe should always be your top priority. Still, given the current climate, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re upholding high standards of health & safety.
COVID-19 has completely changed the way we live our lives. First, a lockdown saw many people unable to work, particularly those in the trades. Now that restrictions are starting to lift, we must all follow the guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission and another lockdown.
Assess The Risk
Before you go to work in anyone else’s home, assess the risk. Start with yourself. If you’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home until you’ve been tested and found negative. Symptoms include a high temperature, a continuous cough or a loss/change in your sense of smell or taste.
Then move on to the customers. Ask if anyone in the household has been diagnosed or displayed symptoms in the last few weeks. If the answer is yes, it’s best to postpone the work for a couple of weeks when everyone is well enough and no longer poses a risk.
Keep a distance between yourself and your customers. Ideally, it’s best to work in a room alone to minimise contact with others. However, where that isn’t possible, a distance of 2 meters is recommended. As per government guidelines, 1 meter is acceptable, providing other forms of protection are used, such as masks and gloves.
If possible, stick to bigger jobs. Spending a whole week in one workplace rather than in several different ones each day reduces the number of people you’ll come into contact with. Therefore, reducing the risk of the spread of COVID. This will not only keep you safer but your customers as well.
Though most germs are spread through the air, it’s also very easy to spread bacteria and germs by hand. To reduce the spread, carry and regularly use a hand sanitiser. Always sanitise your hands before entering a customer’s home and wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day.
A small thing that could make a big difference is to ask homeowners to leave their internal doors open. Door handles are one of the worst offenders in a home for harbouring germs. Minimising the contact you have with them will reduce the risk of transmission.
Wearing masks has become the norm of day-to-day life for many of us when shopping and out and about. However, wearing one while in a customer’s home could not only help reduce the spread of germs, it can make yourself and your customer feel more comfortable. Change your mask when it becomes damp, and if you’re using a disposable mask, dispose of it in a non-recycling bin. Gloves are also an option and should be disposed of upon exiting the worksite.
Everyone is different, and some customers may request you wear a mask, others won’t. Be flexible but cautious. Even if the customer hasn’t asked you to wear a mask, do it if you feel that it’s the right thing to do.
By maintaining good ventilation in the room you’re working in, you’ll be reducing the risk of transmission due to the airflow. According to research undertaken by Shelly Miller, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, “The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of outside air replacing the stale air inside.”
Lunchtime is one of the best times of the day, and it’s always nice for a customer to whip you up something, but it’s best to politely decline for now. (Be sure to let them know it’s for health & safety reasons rather than poor tea-making skills). Instead, bring your lunch, a travel flask of tea and a bottle of water to keep you fed and watered throughout the day.
During work, aim to keep your workplace clean and tidy. Clean and put tools away once you no longer need them. Once you’ve finished a job, clean up around you. This means any surfaces, equipment or tools you’ve used during the work. In this case, a tub of antibacterial wipes is helpful to have on hand.
Arguably the best part of any job is getting paid no matter what form the payment comes in. However, given the current situation, many businesses have gone cashless and accept contactless payment only. If you don’t carry a contactless payment machine, a simple bank transfer works just as well.
Taking these health & safety steps and precautions will ensure you’re as safe as you can be. In doing so, you’ll be able to continue to do your job, earn money, and live a relatively normal life even in these unprecedented times.
For more information as a business or employee, visit gov.UK/coronavirus