Four tradies explain the dos and don’ts for having tradespeople work safely in your home during the coronavirus outbreak
By Georgia Madden, Senior Houzz Writer – As Featured on Houzz
“There’s been a reduction in inquiries, but that’s to be expected,” says Peter Cootes, director at Peter Cootes Electrical, a family-owned business in Sutherland Shire, NSW.“However, with more people working from home and school-aged kids staying at home, electricity and access to the internet is essential, so we expect that tradies will be needed.”
“We’re still receiving calls from existing clients and some new ones who need help with electrical issues in their homes,” says Tom Kerr, director of The Electric Crew in Kew, Victoria. “We predict – and hope – there will be some continued demand now that people are working from home. This may include improving lighting, adding power pointlocations, adding data points and so on.
“Inevitably, there will also be unexpected electrical issues that people will call us for. We are truly hoping that we can continue to operate and keep our two staff employed,” he says.
“Yes, it’s still safe to have tradespeople working at your home provided steps are put in place to limit infection. Ask your tradie what procedures they have in place before making the appointment,” says Cootes.“It is imperative that all parties –clients and tradies – adhere to current restrictions and keep up-to-date with the constantly moving health regulations. Homeowners need to ensure that the people they are employing are aware of the current restrictions and are following them. The handshake may be gone, but the foot tap is well in place,” he says.Need a plumber pronto? Find a professional near you on Houzz
“Our team is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and clients,” says Kerr. “These include washing our hands regularly, hand sanitising before and after entering a client’s home, having longer phone conversations to reduce the amount of face-to-face time required when in the home, keeping the recommended distance from our clients, and continuing our focus on general cleanliness on the job.“We are also practising social distancing with our families outside of work hours. We would never go to work with the knowledge that we are sick or have any symptoms of coronavirus,” he says.How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation
“We are taking the current circumstances seriously and so are the other trades I’ve been working with,” says Cootes.
“We encounter hazards on every job – from electrocution to working at heights, dust and asbestos, even the family dog. Tradies have been carrying out hazard assessments for some time now as part of their OHS requirements. The coronavirus is another hazard that we assess and put professional and practical steps in place to help prevent.
“Disposable masks, gloves, hand wash and sanitiser is in the van, and part of our daily routine is observing all recommendations provided by the authorities – social distancing, washing hands and equipment, and so on.
“We assess the client too – just as they would be assessing us. If the client is sick or in quarantine we won’t attend their home while they are present. If we are working for an elderly client or someone of high risk, we would wear masks and gloves while working in their home,” he says.
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“Isolate the tradesperson into one room and communicate with them by phone – there’s no need for direct contact,” says Chris Jarvis, a plumber and director at Chris Jarvis Bathrooms with a team of four in Kuraby, Queensland.“Reduce the number of tradies coming into your home, especially if the work is in a confined area,” says Pino Tarquinio, a licensed plumber for GWA Group in South Melbourne, Victoria. “Try to schedule trades at different times or on different days to minimise external contact.“Make sure everyone remains at a safe distance from one another and is equipped with appropriate sanitary products such as hand sanitiser and gloves. Ensure no physical contact is made – no shaking hands.“Both the plumber and the homeowner should provide a form for one another to sign declaring they have not been overseas or been in contact with anyone who has the virus. The plumber must wear gloves and a mask and ensure their hands have been washed and sanitised prior to and after visiting the house or site, as well as ensuring the working area has been wiped down and cleaned thoroughly.
“The plumber should also clean their clothes and shoes after the visit, and the home or site owner should ensure any materials used by the plumber are washed straight away,” says Tarquinio.
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“We recommend that all people keep up the practise of hand washing to protect both themselves and tradespeople coming into their homes,” says Kerr. “You can request that tradespeople wash their hands before beginning any work and you can wipe down any door handles, taps and switches that they may touch.
“Keep to the recommended 1.5-metre distance. Have lengthier conversations about the work required over the phone to reduce face-to-face contact,” he says.