This article is updated regularily. Last update: 27/04/20 @ 20:09 (Dan)
Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
You can find the latest government information from the official sources below, futher information provided in this policy relates specifically to N4 Gas and our clients.
Additional referenced documents:
- Gov.uk - IPC
- Gov.uk - Guidance for businesses
- Gov.uk - Guidance for Trades Persons
- Gov.uk - Guidance on PPE outside a clinical setting
- Gov.uk - Decontamination of non-healthcare environments
- HSE - Hand sanitisation
- HSE - Face mask fit testing
13th April 2020 - Operations partially suspended
Engineering operations: Active. Currently undertaking essential works only.
Office operations: Working from home. They have access to limited resources during this period.
- Landlord duties explained
- Boiler servicing for warranty validation
- Managing our risk of contagion
- Managing clients in self isolation
- Managing clients with high risk consequences
- PPE issue and processes
- Types of calls we will undertake
- Charges during this period
- Closing statement
Landlord duties explained
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that any property they let out has it's gas appliances and flues checked for safety at least once every 12 months. This inspection cannot "run over" even in the current crisis. Where a landlord allows an inspection to run over they could be fined or face imprisonment.
During the pandemic, N4 Gas will continue to carry out landlord gas safety inspections where it is safe for us to do so to allow landlords to meet their requirements.
Update 07/04 - Gas Safe Register have published a dedicated Landlord Official Guidance page, this provides some helpful information and walked scenarios to help make the situation a little clearer for landlords, it does not address tenant concerns particulary well, but does at least give everyone a good reference point.
Boiler servicing for warranty validation
If the anniversary of a boiler under warranty has a service due during the period, most manufacturer's are permitting this to be "put off" until after the crisis. We will undertake certain servicing work however we are attempting to limit our engineer's exposure levels and as such these works will be planned on a first come, first served basis. If we have a slot within the next couple of days then it will be offered, otherwise you will need to call back in a few days time or wait until the lock down period has ended.
- BAXI, Potterton & Main Heating (Promised flexibility)
- Vaillant Group (Extended until end of year)
- Viessmann (Extended by 3 months)
- Worcester Bosch (Extended upto 6 months)
Managing our risk of contagion
We are following Public Health England and government advice where it is available in regard to PPE. We, like everyone else are struggling to get hold of appropriate PPE and as such, we are carefully managing our stocks to ensure that we have it when neccessary.
In order to help keep both our clients and engineers safe we have implemented procedures for both our clients and engineers to follow. We ask that all clients receiving a service from ourselves during this period make themselves aware of the following points:
Whilst engineers are on site:
- Engineers may require access to running water with soap.
- Engineers may require access to a clean towel or paper towel.
- Engineers may dispose of gloves worn within your property in your waste bin.
- Engineers will be wearing additional PPE. This will be based on a risk assessment as to what PPE is to be worn (See below).
- Clients are requested to keep a gap of 2m between them and the engineer.
- Clients are requested to retreat into another room of the property once our engineer has been shown where they need to access whilst the works are carried out. We understand personal security concerns, and we are happy for doors to be left open, we just want to maintain the largest gap practically possible between people.
- We will not require signatures from clients during this period, however we may take photographic evidence of works completed.
- Engineers will keep visits to a minimum, all paperwork and followup work will be completed away from client premises in their vans or when they get home.
- We ask that all surfaces around the appliance(s) to be worked on to be cleared of personal effects to reduce surface contamination.
- Any personal effects moved by our engineer to make access may not be returned to their original position to reduce surface contamination.
- We are wiping down surfaces where possible with anti-bacterial spray.
- Our engineers are being asked to stay away from our office to prevent cross contamination.
In the background, what we are doing:
- Engineers are being instructed on contamination and decontamination processes.
- Engineers are dry washing and decontaminating skin/hands before and after every visit.
- Engineers are following a strict donning/doffing policy of PPE.
- Vehicles are being run with "clean" and "dirty" sides.
- Engineers showing any signs of symptoms are being paid to stay at home.
Managing clients in self isolation
You must inform us prior to our visit if you are in self isolation with active symptoms or have had active symptoms within the past 14 day period. We will attend for safety related issues, and where there is a total failure of the heating or hot water system. We may request a video call where possible prior to the visit to assess the situation and environment that we are expecting our engineers to work in.
- Engineers will be wearing face masks if appropriate (See below).
- If you have issues with face masks being worn, please let the office staff know. We are aware that illness can put clients on edge when they cannot see the face of a person and we are trying to be as sensitive as possible to our customer needs during this period.
- You may not approach the engineer or attempt physical contact with the engineer in any way.
- It will not be possible to use dust sheets to prevent surface contamination.
- The engineer will bag up and leave used PPE at your front door on exit which you will be required to dispose of after 72hrs.
- We will only be attending for water and gas leaks as well as total failure of either your heating or hot water system.
Managing vulnerable clients
If you are elderly, have heart/lung/chest/immunity issues or have been sent a letter of shielding, please think twice about calling us to your property during this period. Should you need us to deal with a defective appliance, we will happily do so but you must let us know prior to our attendance (We don't need to know what is wrong with you and we will not ask any personal questions), however we do need to know so we can get the most appropriately exposed engineers to you.
We will where possible carry out a pre-inspection via video call where possible to limit our exposure within your property.
Any engineer that is asked to attend to vulnerable customers will be cough and symptom free, however this does not mean they are virus free.
- We will wipe down all touched surfaces where possible using a hard surface cleaner, however you may wish us to use your own if you are sensitive to certain products.
- Engineers may be wearing face masks if appropriate (See below).
- If you have issues with face masks being worn, please let the office staff know. We are aware that illnesses can put clients on edge when they cannot see the face of a person and we are trying to be as sensitive as possible to our customer needs during this period.
- Please keep a good gap of at least 2m from our engineer and retreat to a seperate room if possible. Our engineers will keep a distance from yourself in return.
- We ask, that where possible, any shielding customers utilise a 3rd party family member to let us in and show us to the appliance, where possible the shielded person should be kept as far away from us as possible, likewise, they should keep away from the immediate vicinity of the working area for as long as possible even when we have departed.
PPE issue and processes
PPE is very limited at the moment, our engineers are deploying PPE based on risk assessment. This process starts before we desptch an engineer. We are receiving a lot of requests from clients on what PPE they should expect from our engineers; we cannot give exact answers prior to the visit as the engineer is ultimately responsible. However they are following guidance from us and Public Health England.
Will they wear gloves?
In most cases, yes. Surface contamination has been identified as the biggest risk. Engineers are cleaning hands and donning gloves prior to accessing properties. They may then change gloves prior to exiting the property. These may be disposed of in your waste bin.
Will they wear face masks?
Following PHE guidance, we are not enforcing face masks except for those with active infection. Due to the limited availability of adequate grade face masks, we are asking engineers to reserve these for those high risk category clients. Engineers may choose to wear a face covering at their own discretion, however until stocks of face masks are once again available we are unable to guarantee that an engineer can wear an approved mask except where following a risk assessment this has been deemed neccessary.
Will they wear disposable overalls/face shields?
We are not permitting engineers to work in close proximity with those infected and as such, these are not required. However where a safety issue exists that requires close proximity working, we do have a very limited amount available. Once worn, these will be disposed of at the front door of your property.
These come into contact with many surfaces and following risk assessment we are limiting dust sheet use. Under normal circumstances, we would always deploy sheets, during the current period, this is not always possible. We are asking engineers to launder dust sheets as often as possible to reduce levels of likely contamination.
Types of calls we will undertake during this pandemic
In a bid to reduce our spread of the virus and manage our work loads, we have taken the decision to limit the scope of work which we would normally carry out as follows:
- Gas leaks
- Water leaks from heating and hot water pipework
- Total failure of gas appliances essential for providing heating or hot water
- Failure of heating system
- Failure of hot water system
- Landlord gas safety inspections within VACANT properties to allow compliance with the law but limit exposure
- Landlord gas safety inspections within a tenanted property where a risk assessment has been carried out and both parties have explicitly permitted the inspection to take place.
- Installation of new hot water cylinders where we are replacing a defective unit
- Installation of new boilers where repair is not suitable and the appliance is defective
We are not currently able to offer:
- Gas safety inspections where the property is occupied and failed to satisfy a suitable standard of health or where we cannot maintain the Public Health England guidance of suitable distancing measures.
- Call outs for noisy appliances, single radiators not working or minor faults
- Quotations for general upgrades or energy improvements.
- Nest/Tado or smart control upgrades
- Gas fire or general boiler servicing
- Radiator upgrades
- New boiler or appliance installations where an appliance is fully functional
Charges during this period
In order to keep our business active during this period and on the other side of the pandemic, we have implemented a temporary pricing policy.
- There is a minimum charge of £40 for any visit, whether complete or aborted. This includes visits where we are unable to gain access due to illness.
- We may request payment up front for any labour and/or parts proposed.
- We will be making finance available for new boiler installations.
If you are financially struggling and require our services, please let our office know and we will look at each case on it's own merit. Please ensure any invoices are paid on time so we can ensure our engineers get paid and can continue to provide a service to other clients.
I would personally like to thank you for your understanding during these unprecedented times. Never in my life did I ever expect for the world to be so turned upside down and we will get through this. To all of our wonderful customers, please stay safe and well. If there is anything we can do to help, please ask!