Ireland opening back up following the Covid-19 lockdown poses many challenges for both large and small business in the heating and plumbing industry. We see large-scale sites reopening with stringent safety and health measures to allow their workforce to return to work safely but we are also seeing small outbreaks of coronavirus in some sites.
Shane Henderson, Director, Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland, says that it is inevitable that compulsory wearing of facemasks on all construction sites will become the norm sooner rather than later. “It is the only safe way of protecting workers who must work within proximity of each other. However, more guidance must be made available to workforces on how facemasks must be worn and on how they must be handled.
“We all see too often, facemasks being worn pulled down over the chin, incorrectly handled and also incorrectly disposed of. There are excellent, simple guidance videos available on the HSE website that demonstrate this all in an easy-to-understand manner.”
Richie Burke, also a Director for HAPAI, says that smaller businesses and self- employed workers appear to have embraced the new back-to-work challenges and have adapted their working environments very well.
“We have seen how companies such as Heating Engineer Suppliers Ltd have quickly evolved their business to supply the heating and plumbing industry with the necessary personal protective equipment allowing them to work safely, keep themselves and their employees safe and indeed, keep their customers safe. Many of our HAPAI members have been supplied with hand sanitisation stations for their work vehicles, including relevant supplies of gloves, masks, sterilization wipes, etc.”
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 has added significant cost to the running of a business. Whether it is large or small, there is a proportional cost to the business. Ultimately the customer will pay but the feedback from our members is that they have been working extremely hard on keeping those additional costs to a minimum, but they are seeing significant price increases from their suppliers. Between substantial supply chain delays, higher transportation costs and reduced workforce capacities, obtaining plumbing supplies is adding delays to projects.
“Ireland has done what has been asked of it to reduce the number of cases and deaths, however, looking forward and with the current global rise in coronavirus cases, our release from lockdown may only be short lived. It is now that we must all dig even deeper and be regimental about our hygiene and our personal space.”