A new normal

The Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland (HAPAI) reflect on how Covid-19 is affecting our industry...

HAPAI fully support the HSE guidelines.

As Ireland works to reboot the construction industry, there is confusion over who can actually return to work. The HSE guidelines state that outdoor construction work can proceed, as long as social distancing rules can be observed. Normal, non-emergency indoor work is still not permitted at present, though there are plans in place to allow this in the future.

HAPAI fully support the HSE guidelines and urge members of our industry to strictly adhere to and adopt the protocols set out within them. Much of the guidance is detailed extensively in the Government’s published: ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’. The document outlines measures for employers to implement in order to ensure the safety of their employees and members of the public. Maintaining strict social distancing, hand hygiene and cough etiquette are essential requirements for all workers, not only within the workplace but travelling to, for and from work (and also at home).

Our workplaces have changed and that is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. How we interact with others, new sanitising stations at entry and exit points to buildings, where and how we use canteen areas, toilet facilities etc. are just some examples of the changes occurring.

We need to look at how we can help to keep not just ourselves safe, but also our work colleagues and members of the public that we may interact with during business hours.

We must learn and adopt new methods that will allow us to work safely; risk assessing every task has become even more important than ever before.

• Always follow Government and HSE guidelines
• Always maintain social distancing.
• Always observe all hygiene rules.
• If in doubt, do not carry out.

• Social distancing
• Group size protocols
• Work area sanitisation
• Tool sanitisation
• Sanitisation station locations (mobile, permanent, van, etc.)
• Specialist PPE

Visitors / Members of the Public
• It is a requirement to keep a log of all visitors and members of the public that you interact with at work. The purpose of this log is to assist in contact tracing should there be a positive case of Covid-19 within the workplace.
• Ensure your customer is not showing any signs of the virus or has not been in contact with someone who has or is showing signs of Covid-19.

Travelling to, for, or from work
• Travelling alone to and from work, when possible, by walking, cycling, car or van
• Maximum of two people to a vehicle in opposite diagonal seating when possible
• Windows open if possible
• Sanitising all vehicle contact points before and after every vehicle use
• Avoid public transport if possible
• Remain seated at all times whilst in motion
• Avoid being close to others
• Avoid touching transmission points, such as handrails
• Use gloves and bring hand sanitiser Toilets and Canteens
• Wash your hands before and after using toilets and canteens
• Maintain strict social distancing measures

At risk individuals
• If you have any underlying health issues that may put you at further risk to contracting Covid-19, the advice is to remain at home
• Employers should risk assess each and every employee individually

Covid-19 Inductions
• All employers and employees should attend Covid-19 ‘Return to Work’ safety inductions
• All employers should adopt a declaration form for employees to complete to confirm their suitability to return to the workplace. This declaration should be ongoing and repeated at regular intervals

Specialist PPE must be worn when appropriate. Examples may include disposable nitrile or latex gloves, FFP2 or FFP3 face masks, disposable plastic aprons, enclosed eye protection and face shields when necessary.

Many employers are appointing a trained Covid-19 Officer on building sites. The Covid-19 Officer will be the workplace’s designated point of contact who will maintain workplace procedures and social distancing. He/she will support the management team, working in everyone’s best interest. He/she will also assist in providing documentation held in order to assist in contact tracing,should there be a confirmed case in the workplace.

HAPAI will continue to advise all of our members in the industry to follow HSE guidelines, maintain strict social distancing, adopt good health etiquette, risk assess every task and above all – protect yourselves and stay safe.For more information or to join the Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland, please get in touch using the below contact information.

T: +353 (0)87 9006 114
E: info@hapai.ie