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COVID-19 Advice and Guidance

Advice for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Please be aware: as this is an ever changing situation information may be updated, amended and added on a regular basis.

UPDATED 25 MARCH - Until the announcement made by the UK Prime Minister on 23rd March, restricting people to their homes, we have continued to operate gas safety inspections and investigations, focusing on the highest risks. Our inspectors have been taking a range of precautions to protect the public and engineers that they come into contact with, as well as themselves; based on the guidance provided to businesses and the public on Gov.uk.

What do the new restrictions announced by the UK Government mean for gas engineering businesses?

Given the restrictions have been put in place in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is essential that any registered businesses undertaking work still follows the guidelines in terms of:

  • Keeping a minimum of 2m apart from other people (who are not from your household),
  • Washing hands frequently,
  • Wiping down all surfaces.

Guidance on businesses and trades that can continue to work through the restrictions can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance#work-carried-out-in-peoples-homes

And: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

This is based on current guidance from the UK Government, at 24th March 2020, and is subject to change as the pandemic situation progresses.

We also note that registered businesses should conduct their own assessment of the risks before entering any property.

Will Gas Safe Register Inspectors continue to undertake inspections in gas work where there has been a concern raised?

During this initial period of restriction, Gas Safe Register anticipates we will only conduct inspections undertaken by GSR Inspectors into high risk scenarios, and that these will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the HSE.  All other inspections will be held and prioritised to be scheduled once the restrictions are lifted.   

We have suspended all of our routine Inspection Events for the time being, and are looking at suitable alternatives to attending an event in person. This work will continue, and we will communicate details of these as soon as they have been decided.

General Information: Gas Safe Register service 

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we are currently operating a limited service as we have closed our main office (as of 25 March 2020 until further notice) to support efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.

All of our services are available online, at www.gassaferegister.co.uk, or you can email us with your query to register@gassaferegister.co.uk.

If you have a gas emergency or can smell gas please call the emergency service provider on 0800 111 999.

For vulnerable members of the public, unable to use our website or email, we continue to operate the HSE Gas Safety Advice line on 0800 300 363. Please be aware response times are currently longer and they may need to leave us as voicemail message, so that we can call back.  

General Information: Inspections

Where inspections or investigations must take place, our inspectors are taking a range for precautions to protect the public and engineers that they come into contact with, as well as themselves.  These are based on the guidance provided on Gov.uk, and include;

  • Personal protective equipment, frequent handwashing with soap or use of alcohol hand sanitising gel.
  • Inspectors visiting sites, confirm prior to entering the property, whether anyone is anyone is self-isolating, or has been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID19 or has recently gone into self-isolation?
  • If the answer is ‘yes’, then the inspection will be cancelled and recorded as an aborted visit and held for rescheduling at a later date.
  • In addition, if the inspector visiting a site suspects anything that makes them feels uncomfortable with the situation then they can retreat from site and follow the steps above.

Any member of Gas Safe Register staff residing in a household where another person has symptoms, or presenting symptoms themselves, will follow the guidelines on self isolation available on Gov.uk.

COVID-19: Advice for landlords

The following is intended for Landlords of properties.

We are keen to highlight that, as set out below,  Landlords are responsible for their properties and have a duty of care to their tenants. This means that Registered Gas Engineers are not responsible for Landlords Gas Safety Checks being in place or up to date.

COVID-19: Advice for Landlords and tenants – updated 30 March 2020

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has released new guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities.

Section 3 of the document below provides guidance on property access and health and safety obligations in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

The advice includes:

  • What does the current situation mean for repairs to my property?
  • What about my legal obligations to provide regular gas and electrical safety inspections?
  • What about the risk of catching the virus?

The MHCLG guidance and following HSE stated advice are aligned.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state:

“Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. This is a legal duty to repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in a safe condition, to ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue, and to keep a record of each safety check.

In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g., refusal of access due to tenants self-isolating, or if you are unable to engage a registered gas engineer to carry out the work due to a shortage of available engineers, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant and details of your engineers attempts to gain access. You should seek to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are available.

If you anticipate difficulties in gaining access as the COVID-19 situation progresses, you have the flexibility to carry out annual gas safety checks two months before the deadline date. Landlords can have the annual gas safety checks at their properties carried out any time from 10 to 12 calendar months after the previous check and still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.

You are encouraged to arrange your annual gas safety checks as early as possible, as a contingency against tenants being in self-isolation for a period of 14 days (in line with current guidelines), or gas engineers being unavailable due to illness. The two-month period to carry out annual gas safety checks should provide adequate resilience in most situations.

Current guidance from HM Government concurs that work can still be carried out in people’s homes where necessary, e.g., for reasons of safety, provided that the GOV.UK guidance on social distancing is followed. See ‘Advice for engineers’ for guidance for engineers and their employers regarding working in peoples’ homes.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for engineers

Gas engineers working in the homes of people who are self-isolating or vulnerable should follow the latest advice on, Gov.uk including guidance on working in peoples’ homes.

 

Registered Businesses

Can gas engineers and tradespeople still work?

Given the restrictions have been put in place in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is essential that any registered businesses undertaking work still follows the guidelines in terms of:

  • Keeping a minimum of 2m apart from other people (who are not from your household),
  • Washing hands frequently,
  • Wiping down all surfaces.

Full guidance on precautions to take to avoid transferring or contracting the virus can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

And: www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

There is also information on Gov.uk regarding tradespeople working in people's homes: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance#work-carried-out-in-peoples-homes

This is based on current guidance from the UK Government, as of 25th March 2020, and is subject to change as the pandemic situation progresses.

We also note that registered businesses should conduct their own assessment of the risks before entering any property, as with any other risk.

We have had a range of queries around whether gas engineers are critical workers or not, and we have seen a range of conflicting opinions offered by different organisations. As of 23rd March, the most comprehensive advice is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education

Where these queries relates to the question of provision of emergency school places, we are not in a position to comment:
  1. every engineers situation is different
  2. each situation is also about the specific schools' capacity to provide places to the most vulnerable children and to critical workers.
We understand many schools are using a triage system, based around nature of parent/ guardians job roles, and ability for the child to be kept at home safely with a responsible person. The intent to also keep as many children at home as possible, to reduce the spread of the virus.
Whilst Engineers are expected to take all reasonable measures to maintain their ACS qualifications, including planning ahead where possible, we appreciate that the current situation means this is not feasible. Maintaining gas safety competence is essential for registered gas engineers.

If engineers take all reasonable steps to update their expired ACS certification as soon as possible after the restrictions are lifted, and continue to work safely, HSE will permit registered gas engineers to remain on the Register for an additional period during the peak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) measures. Engineers may be required to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to renew their qualifications. Engineers MUST maintain their Gas Safe registration during any extension of their ACS qualification period if they are carrying out gas work. This is a temporary measure and does not remove the standing requirement for registered gas engineers to maintain their ACS certification and renew certification every 5 years.
We recognise that many registered businesses will be thinking about how they manage financially over the coming weeks.

We need to reinforce that you must be registered if you intend to carry out gas work. If you would like to discuss the payment options available to you, including direct debit which can be used to spread the cost of registration to later in the year, please get in touch with our team via register@gassaferegister.co.uk.

However, we accept that some businesses may consider discontinuing gas work for the time being and suspending their registration, if this is the case please let us know via email, register@gassaferegister.co.uk, as soon as possible.
Businesses who are otherwise impacted financially as a result of COVID-19 should access the various support mechanisms which have been put into effect by Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

If you are unable to undertake gas work because you are a high-risk category person due to your age or an underlying medical condition etc, and you are following Government guidance to not put yourself at higher risk, please let us know immediately and we will suspend your registration until you advise us that you are returning to gas work.

IMPORTANT: During any suspension period, you must not carry out any gas work. If any gas work is carried out by you whilst your registration is suspended, even temporarily, this will be a breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations and you may be liable to prosecution.
No, you do not. Regulation 36 of the GSIUR relating to Landlord Gas Safety Records does not specify that a signature is required from the recipient, only from the engineer undertaking the safety checks.