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Working Safely During Coronavirus

This pandemic has affected everyone to some degree, some more than others.  Many businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector, have been particularly hard hit with many deciding to cut jobs or cease trading altogether.  Furthermore, despite the easing of the lockdown for a time and the market slowly opening up, there are many who are still furloughed and face job uncertainty.  In light of recent reports indicating that the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 is on the increase in all age groups, tighter COVID restrictions are definitely on the horizon. It’s certainly been an unpredictable frantic year and, with proposed ideas, such as a ‘moon shot’ and ‘circuit break’, what other fascinating, COVID-related ideas and vocabulary will we encounter next?

For companies that have opened up, there has been no relaxing of their legal health and safety duties and responsibilities.  ACtest recognises that it is a troubling and stressful time for business owners, and for the companies that are reliant on external contractors to maintain electrical safety, this brings with it some apprehension because opening your premises to outsiders increases risk.

This understandable angst and palpable fear of the Covid-19 was perfectly exemplified recently when some of our electricians visited a client’s property where a tenant was residing.   The tenant was extremely nervous despite the fact that her landlord (our client) had given her plenty of notice and had instructed her to vacate the property whilst the electricians were on site.  The electricians concerned arrived with face coverings, overshoes and were armed with wipes and antibacterial hand gel (PPE for these times); however, she tried to thwart their entry and even asked the electricians if they were suffering from Covid-19. The electricians listened to her concerns and left to speak with the concierge, who gently reminded her via telephone that she had refused entry previously by stating that she had a fever a couple of weeks ago! When the electricians were finally allowed entry, they kindly explained to her that the windows would need to be open in order to ensure ventilation.  Despite her unease and the fact that she had been instructed to vacate the property for the duration of the electrical repair work, she decided to stay in the property with her mask on in another room.  Sadly, none of our COVID protocols put her at ease, as it was evident that she was uncomfortable but for the very important purposes of essential maintenance, the work had to be done.

Thankfully, in the main, we are able to communicate and put people at ease in these uncertain times. We believe that it is important that our staff and clients feel safe and confident to work. We have a COVID-19 specific risk assessment; our staff also do not share vehicles (unless they are from the same household); and we observe the government’s laws. We don’t want to come across as too preachy; however, if you’re interested, here are some suggestions for you which may make you more comfortable before welcoming external contractors to your home or business premises:

  • Before the contractor arrives, it is a good idea to open windows in order to ventilate the enclosed space and minimise the risk of transmission.
  • On arrival, visitor(s) should sign in and have their temperatures taken by you using a non-touch temperature hand-held gun. This procedure has been used to good effect in the care homes ACtest services.
  • Wherever possible, prominence should be given to handwashing and sanitising by way of signage or a designated person. You may even wish to signpost a reminder to visitors with the government slogan: “Hands, face, space.”
  • If your workspace is far from spacious, then arrange for the electricians to work in an empty environment. If this is not practicable, it is advisable for all persons on site to wear face masks or coverings when in close proximity with others.
  • For further peace of mind, once the electricians have completed their work, it is a good idea to disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, hand rails, switches, etc.

In these uncertain times, scientists’ bleak predictions suggest that we have to live with COVID and that its spectre will cast a dark shadow for some time.  The key thing to remember is that it is everyone’s responsibility to look after one another – to show care, consideration and courtesy.  This will mean that we all need to make a concerted effort to change our behaviour and be forward-thinking.  Of course, there are some people who will struggle with the COVID restrictions more than others; however, if we all strive to be caring and look out for one another, then we may be able to live relatively well in this new type of normal and weather this virus until it recedes.