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Guidance for employees and work in people’s homes

General guidance for employees in construction, trades and horticulture

Exercise social distancing at all times

  • Workers should remain at least 2 metres apart from other workers, customers, and members of the public where possible.
  • Consideration should be given to reducing the need for physical interaction between workers, customers, and the public as much as it is safe to do so.
  • Employees or Contractors must not attend work if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. You must report your absence to your supervisor or site management so records can be maintained.
  • If you are considered a vulnerable person (by virtue of age, underlying health condition or pregnancy), or you live with someone who is vulnerable, you should discuss with your employer what arrangements they will put in place to ensure that your personal work station is an appropriate distance from others (at least 2m), that there are good arrangements for hand hygiene and environmental cleaning and that shift changes and movements around the workplace are organised to minimise contact between individuals.

Working practices

  • If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place.
  • Workers should wash or clean their hands before entering and after leaving a site, as well as at regular intervals during the course of work. If there is no access to running water, hand sanitiser should be used, though soap and water is preferable in cases where there is visible dirt on hands.
  • Employees must report to their employer anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety, with particular attention being given to the spread of COVID-19.

Breaks/welfare

  • The workforce should be required to stay on site once they have entered it and not use local shops (those that remain open) until further advised.
  • The workforce should be asked to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home. In all situations, workers should sit at least 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact.
  • Hands should be washed before and after eating.

Travel

  • Travel to/from work sites should be done separately from other workers as much as possible.
  • Consider other means of transport to avoid public transport e.g. cycling
  • Ensure all company vehicles for the time being have dedicated drivers
    • Drivers should not swap between plant and vans.
    • Should the need arise where a change in driver is required, then all the control surfaces where skin contact can be made are to be wiped down with suitable a cleaner.
    • Should passengers have to be carried, then surfaces that have/can be touched by skin are to be wiped down with a suitable cleaner.

If you become unwell on site and believe you may have COVID-19, you must:

  • Follow the guidance on self-isolation and not return to work until your period of self-isolation has been completed.
  • If you’re waiting to be picked up to go home, you should stay in a designated room at least 2 meters away from others and if possible open a window for ventilation. If the weather permits, remain outside but at least 2 meters away from others.

Guidance for work carried out in/around customers’ homes and offices

This guidance applies to tradespeople undertaking work at customers’ premises where the customer or other individuals may be present on-site. This includes gardening and horticulture work, domestic cleaning and home/office repairs and improvements.

Before attending the job, check whether anyone will be present at the property and if so, whether they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating for any reason. If anyone at the property is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or is self-isolating due to recent contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, it is recommended that any non-emergency work be postponed until the isolation period has been completed. Similarly, you must not attend work if you or any members of your own household are showing COVID-19 symptoms and/or are self-isolating.

Suggested appropriate steps to implement social distancing and enhanced hygiene:

  • When attending a job in or around homes or offices, avoid contact as much as possible with other workers, customers, and members of the public. Remain 2 metres away from others for the duration of the job.
  • Ask that households leave all internal doors open to minimise contact with door handles.
  • Identify busy areas across the household where people travel to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors, and minimise movement within these areas.

For anyone who will be in the property while work takes place, you should agree a method beforehand by which they will minimise contact with any workers as far as possible for the duration of the job (e.g. remaining in a separate room where no work is taking place, staying upstairs if work is taking place downstairs, remaining inside if gardening is taking place, etc). You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.

  • Wash hands before and after attending a job and regularly throughout. Use soap and hot water or alcohol hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
  • Clean tools and if possible the working area once work has finished.
  • Welfare breaks should be taken away from other workers and occupants.

Guidance for emergency work in the homes of people who are self-isolating or are in a vulnerable group

Non-emergency work should be minimised in properties where individuals are self-isolating or are in a vulnerable group. In the event that emergency work is required in the homes of people who are self-isolating or in a vulnerable group, the following guidance applies: 

‘Emergency work’ includes: 

  • No electricity
  • Gas leak
  • No cold, clean drinking water or dirty water coming up through plug holes or toilets
  • A severe leak and/or burst pipe
  • Any leak that is affecting the electrics
  • An unsafe electrical fitting that is sparking or smoking, or evidence of bare wiring
  • No heating
  • No hot water
  • No working ovens
  • Carbon monoxide alarm sounding
  • Other maintenance issues causing a risk to the tenants or the property
  • Sewage leak
  • Property security

If emergency work is being carried out in the homes of people who are self-isolating or shielding, the following precautions should be taken: 

  1. Ensure you talk to the customer over the phone before visiting a property. Confirm with them:
  • If the issue can be resolved without a visit; or
  • If the repair can be undertaken without entering the property
  1. If access to a property is required, then ask that the customer and any other people present at the property are isolated in an area of the property you will not need to access.
  1. During any visit to a property:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before you enter the property.
  • Call from outside the property and ask the owner to open the relevant access point.
  • Ask them to ensure all door handles and touch points are cleaned and windows opened in the room/s you will be accessing.
  • Where possible ask all occupants in the premises to vacate the room/area you will be working in, and
  • Ask that all occupants in the premises remain at least two meters away in distance at all times whilst you are inside the premises.
  • Wear gloves wherever possible that can be disposed of, or washed, after you have finished working.
  • Following the visit wash your hands and equipment/tools thoroughly.
  • Wherever possible it is advised that payments should be made via card rather than accepting cash. 

 

Additional guidance for domestic cleaners

  • In respect of vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people where cleaning is part of a home care package, and where the client has capacity, you should involve them in the decision regarding such work and if it is feasible to do so whilst adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. This will include the feasibility of not being in the same room at all times or if that’s unavoidable then remaining 2 metres away from others for the duration of the job.
  • Limit the number of workers within a confined space to maintain social distancing.
  • Use a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity. For example, during two-person assembly or maintenance.
  • Allocate the same workers to a household where jobs are repetitive. Employers and agencies should introduce fixed pairing to have the same individuals allocated to a household where jobs are repetitive in nature.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be beneficial as a precautionary measure, for example it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

When attending homes of vulnerable individuals and/or individuals who are self-isolating or shielding, it may be appropriate to wear a face covering. If you choose to wear one, you should follow PHE guidance on how to wear a face covering.