This article is updated regularily. Last update: 30/03/20 @ 06:30 (Dan)
It is unlikely that you have not heard about the Coronavirus COVID-19 and the advice given. Here we go over how this global pandemic affects us and you in relation to gas safety.
You can find the latest government information from the official sources below, however this article has been written to help consumers in relation to how we as a company are managing our client's responsibilities and how we are attempting to keep our client's safe not just from the virus, but from the risks of gas in your home.
30th March 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 during this pandemic
- Boiler servicing for warranty validation
- Managing our engineers risk of contagion
- Managing clients in self isolation
- Managing clients with high risk consequences
- Types of calls we will undertake
- Charges during this period
- Closing statement
Landlord duties during this pandemic
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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the body which manages Gas Safety has released a statement to the effect that there will be no lenience offered on this, following the updated statement on the 25th, this work of completing a gas safety inspection will be classified as essential works following a risk assessment by the tenant and attending engineer. Although we feel this is unfair on tenants/landlords and our engineers, we will do what we can to satisfy the landlord's legal duties, however where we feel it is not appropriate or where a resident is not happy for us to carry out these works, we shall respect this decision without question and provide an alternate later inspection date, providing documentation to the landlord to show that attempted access has been made. Due to the unprecedented nature of the current events, this is felt to be the best way possible to manage the grey area that has now formed.
Please understand that we are asking a lot of both tenants and engineering staff during this lock down period and this situation is likely to change without notice.
Update 27/03 - Gas Safe Register have made an announcement to the effect that the legal duty is theirs to satisfy and not that of the Gas Safe Registered business. Gas Safe Registered businesses are being instructed to not take risks during this period, ultimately, as N4 Gas, we will do what we can for you, but we need to keep your tenants safe and our engineers as healthy as we can during this period.
Boiler servicing for warranty validation
If you have just invested a few thousand pound on a new boiler with a nice big warranty, you will be aware that you need to get it serviced annually. Should the anniversary of the boiler service fall during the COVID19 period, many manufacturers have now released statements on the process. As it stands today, most manufacturers are allowing the boiler service to be put back, however you should check with the manufacturer of your appliance for further information.
- BAXI, Potterton & Main Heating (Promised flexibility)
- Vaillant Group (Extended until end of year)
- Viessmann (No announcement as of writing)
- Worcester Bosch (Extended upto 6 months)
Managing our risk of contagion
Supplies of gloves and general PPE are now running low thanks to the massive upsurge in demand and a certain segment of the community stock piling for their own needs instead of topping up as they need to. We as a company are running low on PPE, however we are topping up as and when we can.
In order to help stop the spread of the virus during this period, we have put restrictions on the types of work we will carry out and the types of clients we will attend to, this policy can be found throughout the wording on this page, in short though, the following notes should be observed:
- Engineers will require access to running water with soap.
- Engineers will require access to a clean towel or paper towel.
- To prevent cross contagion, engineers will dispose of gloves and potentially other PPE worn whilst in your property in your waste bin, these items would not have been worn in any other client's property.
- Engineers with sneezes and coughs are being told to stay at home, we are paying our engineers to stay at home so they do not feel under pressure to attend if they have any symptoms.
- 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 an 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.
- Our engineers are being asked to stay away from our office to prevent cross contamination.
- Self isolating and vulnerable customers are being asked to declare this prior to visitation. We have split our workforce and we have a dedicated engineer undertaking self isolating clients to reduce the risk of contamination for those which are in social distancing.
- Please do not offer your hand to be shaken, we cannot partake in this gesture.
Managing clients in self isolation
If you are in self isolation because you either have symptoms, have had symptoms within the past 14 days, have been exposed to someone having had symptoms or have been confirmed as having COVID-19 you must inform us prior to your visit.
Failure to do so will result in an abortive call and we will apply a charge.
Any person showing signs of a cough or sneezing, whether it is likely to be COVID-19 or a simple cold, must tell us prior to attending so we can reduce our risk level by applying additional procedures.
We have reserved one engineer for high risk visitations - This engineer is isolated from the rest of our client base and operations.
- You and any occupants within the property will be required to cover your mouth and nose during the visit.
- The engineer will be wearing gloves and additional PPE.
- You may not approach the engineer or attempt physical contact with the engineer in any way.
- The area around the faulty appliance should be clear from any items that may need to be moved.
- 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.
- We will only be attending for water and gas leaks as well as total failure of either your heating or hot water system.
Managing clients with high risk consequences
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 of uncertainty. 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.
- Please leave out a cleaning product and cloth so we can wipe down all touched surfaces.
- Engineers will be wearing gloves.
- Engineers may be wearing face masks if appropriate.
- 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.
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!