Keeping everyone safe through COVID pandemic
Housing Associations and their residents have faced many challenges during the COVID Pandemic, not least of all undertaking repairs and maintenance. Whilst some minor issues can be delayed, it is essential homes remain habitable and safe so some repairs and ongoing maintenance can still be carried out. But how can this be done safely? James Kane, from condensation and mould control specialist Airtech Solutions, explains more on what steps both engineers and households can take to protect each other during work in a home.
The Government’s Coronavirus Operational Response January Survey found that, despite a further national lockdown, delivery of services by providers had remained ‘broadly stable’ since August 2020. The majority of providers reported completing all or most safety checks and having no material backlog in emergency repairs but, during the lockdown, many stated undertaking emergency repairs only. The challenges for Housing Associations and Local Authorities of operating during the pandemic are further compounded by being unable to access a small number of properties where vulnerable residents are shielding.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease so it’s essential that properties do not suffer from poor indoor air quality (IAQ), as this exacerbates any respiratory issues. Poor air flow, high moisture content in the air and chemicals from everyday products all lead to poor IAQ and this is made worse by many people spending the vast majority of their time at home. Therefore, it’s vital that any ventilation is in full working order to extract polluted, moisture laden air, provide good IAQ and avoid the problems of condensation and mould. This makes it essential for companies like condensation and mould control specialist Airtech Solutions to be able to do their job during COVID to ensure homes are fit for habitation.
So, what can be done to protect everybody, including vulnerable residents? The solution is to ensure that anybody undertaking repair and maintenance reduces the risk of COVID transmission by taking precautionary measures such as social distancing, excellent hygiene and maximised ventilation. To facilitate this, Airtech has undergone a risk assessment and identified measures that help minimise transmission. They have then detailed this in a helpful leaflet.
Safety steps include confirming that neither the engineer nor anyone in the household have any COVID symptoms before the appointment; maintaining a 2m distance at all times including avoiding shaking hands and using an air purifier to help cleanse the air. Engineers will also wear full PPE throughout the appointment, limit touching surfaces, and will sanitise tools and wash their hands regularly. To make residents feel even safer during this work, in addition to the COVID safety steps, all Airtech engineers are CRB checked giving both residents and providers peace of mind.
Airtech is also suggesting ways residents can help keep themselves and the engineers safe during a visit and so Housing Associations can provide residents with the helpful leaflet to share this information. Ahead of the appointment it’s beneficial to open windows to increase the amount of fresh air circulating to reduce the risk of transmission. It’s also helpful to open any internal doors that an engineer needs to go through, and move any furniture out of the work area, to limit the need to touch anything. During the visit, everyone should keep a 2m distance including children and pets and avoid any physical contact. During an appointment if a resident begins to feel unwell, they should immediately inform the engineer and if they need to cough or sneeze, they should move to another room. Wearing a mask is another important way to keep each other safe and so anyone who is able to wear one should do so.
By following all the steps outlined in the leaflet, Airtech’s engineers are able to carry out essential maintenance to remove and treat unhealthy mould and install ventilation. As well as creating healthier homes, carrying out this work ensures Housing Associations and Local Authorities are meeting their duty of care.
Airtech’s safety leaflet can be downloaded here
Visit the Airtech website