What risks face those working in people’s homes post-COVID?

It is vital to know the risks affecting workers who carry out their jobs in other people’s homes.

With the final stage of England’s reopening from lockdown delayed by four weeks, Covid-secure rules remain in place for those who work in other people’s homes.

Where it is “reasonably necessary” for someone to work in another person’s home, they can continue to do so. So, if you are a tradesperson, nanny, cleaner, or social caregiver, you can carry on with your work. But you must follow the government’s guidance on working in other people’s homes.

Cleaner cleaning a sofa while wearing mask

This blog will explain the rules and the risks and what you can do to protect yourself and your clients.

What are the rules about working in someone’s home?

While it’s good to know you can continue trading if your work requires you to be in someone’s home, you should continue to follow government guidance about how to go about it.

The good news is that step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun, but because of a rise in cases caused by the Delta mutation, some restrictions remain in place.

This means that you must continue to follow Covid-secure guidelines when working with a householder.

If you employ staff who work in people’s houses, you must provide them with information on how to operate safely in people’s homes.

You need to make sure that employees understand the social distancing rules and how to apply them, and the hygiene measures they need to follow once work begins.

If you are working in another person’s house, it is advisable to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment – especially if working in a vulnerable person’s home.
  • Maintain social distancing of 2m where possible.
  • Wear a face mask.
  • Clean more often.
  • Maintain personal hygiene by regularly washing your hands and using hand sanitiser.
  • Discontinue the work if you or anyone on the house begin displaying Covid symptoms.
  • Ensure that the person for whom you are doing the work is not self-isolating or suffering from Covid symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with people at higher risk.
  • Try to ensure there is good ventilation by keeping open windows and doors where possible.
  • Make sure that you can travel to and from the place of work safely.

The government has set out detailed guidance for businesses and employees, including those who work in people’s homes.

Here’s a helpful checklist prepared by the UK government:

Government checklist with coronavirus guidance for businesses

The full document is available here. 

What risks might I face working in another person’s home?

People’s homes are not regulated in the way that an employer’s premises are. This is why it is crucial to carry out a risk assessment before you agree to do the job.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

  • Is the homeowner or any other resident/s suffering from Covid symptoms? You should ascertain their Covid status ahead of agreeing to work in their home.
  • Are any of the residents at high risk, and if so, can you work in a separate room?
  • Is there anyone self-isolating? If so, will you be able to work in a separate space?
  • How many outside visitors come into the household?
  • How many outside visitors might come into the house while you are working there?
  • How regularly is the house cleaned?
  • Are extra steps being taken, such as the use of anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down surfaces that multiple people touch, such as door handles and washing facilities?
  • Is the area that you will be working in well ventilated?
  • Are there adequate washroom facilities?
  • Are the occupants aware of the Covid-secure guidelines? It is best to run through the guidelines and what precautions you would like the occupier/s to take, ahead of your first visit.
  • Will you be able to limit contact with others while you are at the house?

What should I do to protect myself and my clients?

In addition to following general advice and extra hygiene measures to reduce the risks of transmission, here are several other steps that will help protect you and your clients against the risk of infection:

  • Take hand sanitiser with you if access to proper washing facilities with soap and water isn’t available within the home. A wearable hand sanitiser such as the newly available Orbel is the best option as it would be with you all the time, wherever you need to go within the householder’s premises.
  • Take your own food and drink to avoid coming into contact with surfaces that you don’t need to for your work.
  • Be sure to clean all objects and surfaces before and after starting a job, paying particular attention to handles and other surfaces that are touched more often by different people.
  • Open windows and doors in the area where you will be working, to increase ventilation.

Person opening window

  • Be conscious of busy, confined spaces in people’s homes when walking around. For example, watch out for other people before walking up or downstairs or along hallways and wait for them to pass.
  • While the government does not recommend wearing face masks, except for working in particular settings, it may be that people in the house, and you yourself, will feel more reassured if you wear a face mask to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
  • Ensure that you thoroughly clean all tools and equipment after each job.
  • Wash your clothes at the end of the working day.

For more information about when and where it is necessary to wear face masks, the government has set out clear guidance, and you can find out more on the HSE website.

Summary

We strongly advise all workers that need to visit someone’s home to do their job to follow the guidance set out above and to read the government guidelines.

You must familiarise yourself with the PPE at work regulations.

While there may not be a requirement to wear a mask in some cases, if you can – without impeding your work – this will likely be appreciated by your customer and help with word-of-mouth recommendations.

To find out more about how you can protect yourself and your customers when working in their homes, please get in touch today.