Plumbers Health and Safety Practices for Covid-19
In the midst of public shutdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has deemed certain work as “essential” to the fabric of society and therefore they may maintain their business as before. Plumbers are one such category that has been able to continue serving the public population. There are, however, new regulations in place to help protect these types of workers. Plumbing company owners and supervisors must implement health and safety practices in response to this pandemic in order to ensure the safety of their employees, customers and surrounding people. The following article details what Covid-19 is, how it is transmitted, and what safety precautions should be carried out to limit exposure and spread.
The novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV12, is one of many types of coronaviruses. Transmission of this particular virus is primarily spread through person-to-person contact via respiratory particles from coughing, sneezing, etc. CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommend distancing yourself from others by six (6) feet and wash your hands with soap and water frequently. This virus has the potential to survive on surfaces for extended periods of time so disinfectants are also suggested to keep spreading the virus at a minimum.
Covid-19 Safety Recommendations
Plumbers undergo lots of public interaction as part of their job so there are necessary precautions to help protect them and their customers. Below are several health and safety recommendations to achieve this goal.
Call Customers before Service Visit
It can be advantageous to both parties to have the plumber call their customers before the service visit to inquire about if anyone has shown symptoms of Coronavirus recently. Although this won’t be an guaranteed method of avoiding exposure, it at least helps reduce the possibility in case someone has been sick perhaps and the appointment can be rescheduled to a later date. Customers will also appreciate this proactive approach to keeping them safe as well.
Maintain Recommended Distance
Do your best to keep at least the recommended distance of six (6) feet away from fellow coworkers and the customers you are servicing. This is especially vital when in the homes of higher-risk individuals such as the elderly and immune-compromised. Consider establishing no-contact methods of payment so paperwork and forms of payment do not need to be exchanged.
Maintain Clean Hands & Tools
Although plumbing is generally a messy job, these new health standards should lead to added cleaning of plumber’s hands and equipment. For hands, the CDC recommends washing with soap and water more frequently, especially if you sneeze, cough, etc. Try to avoid touching the face between hand washing. Utilize hand sanitizer of at like 60% alcohol when hand washing is not immediately available. For tools, wash hands with soap and water after using them each time and then wash the tools themselves at the end of each work day with a soapy water solution and then a diluted bleach solution for disinfection.
Provide Sanitary Supplies to Plumbers
Plumbing company owners should equip their employees with gloves, shoe covers, and 60%+ alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The CDC claims masks are not as effective as respirators so at this time masks while working may or may not be something plumbers need to wear while performing a job.
Prevent Symptomatic Employees from Working
If any plumbers display signs of fever, cough, shortness of breath, they could potentially have Covid-19 virus and should abstain from working and intermingling with the rest of the public for 14 days. Make sure to comply with the American Disability Act (ADA) by informing other employees that one of their coworkers may have exposed them to the virus but maintain confidentially by withholding whom it may be.
Precautions at Home
To further avoid the spread of Covid-19, make sure to take additional precautions to ensure people in your household do not contract the illness from you. If you suspect exposure occurred while at work or somewhere else, wash your clothes and hands as soon as possible upon arriving at home and continue to wash your hands appropriately and keep your personal items separate for a few days to ensure you do not unnecessarily spread the virus.
Review OSHA Safety Standards
Although OSHA does not have safety standards particularly for Covid-19 policy, it is still a good idea to read and understand the Safety and Health Regulations for Constructions standards that traditionally apply to limiting plumbers exposure to illness and injury.
Below is a list of relevant OSHA standards:
- 1926.20 – General safety and health provisions
- 1926.21 – Safety training and education
- 1926.22 – Recording and reporting of injuries
- 1926.23 – First aid and medical attention
- 1926.28 – Personal protective equipment
- 1926.50 – Medical services and first aid
- 1926.95 – Criteria for personal protective equipment
- 1926.102 – Eye and face protection
- 1926.103 – Respiratory protection
Utilize Virtual Platforms to Assist Customers
When exposure is of greater concern for the employee and/or customer, set up virtual video sessions for more basic repairs that the technician can talk the customer through instead of physically going to their house to do the work. This will not work for every situation given the nature of plumbing, but it may be an appreciated accommodation in some circumstances.
Company owners who implement the suggested safety recommendations detailed above can benefit their employees and customers through proactive protections against Covid-19 virus.