Picture above: John Agnew, GGF Managing Director
Following reported confusion in the Glass & Glazing industry last week around the issue of whether or not companies can work in domestic properties, it was incumbent on the GGF as the industry’s leading trade body to contact Government with some of the key questions raised by GGF Members.
Throughout the COVD-19 crisis the GGF has always been strictly aligned to the Government Guidance and Public Health England (PHE) Guidelines. These guidelines were published on the GGF website on 8 April and cited in numerous subsequent GGF articles which included a direct link through to the Government web page on Social Distancing Guidance.
The GGF has been in correspondence with Government since the start of the lockdown and has been careful to convey an accurate and credible position based on the information received from Government. In addition, the GGF has also been careful not to get embroiled in speculation and interpretations, which have led to unfounded rumours and misinformation causing the reported confusion within the industry. These are serious issues and poor advice could in the worst case lead to loss of life and companies potentially facing very difficult legal positions.
The GGF position remains, as it has been since the outbreak of COVID-19 and that is; that companies must follow Government and Public Health England (PHE) Guidance on working in construction and in people’s homes and if working in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales to follow devolved Governments’ guidance, before taking any decision to carry out installation, repair or maintenance work.
Since 30 April, the GGF has sought and gained further clarity from the Government Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and reiterates that companies must follow the latest Government guidance.
Following the discussion with BEIS, the GGF is now in a position to further clarify as follows:
- In unoccupied properties; the Government advises that work can continue, only if it is safe to do so but companies must adhere to the Government Social Distancing guidance on their website.
- In occupied properties, the Government guidance emphasizes that only essential repair or maintenance work should be carried out and, only if it is safe to do so and is carried out strictly in line with the Government Social Distancing guidance.
It is worth noting that the term “essential” can be defined as; work required on a building where the occupants’ health and safety could be at risk. For example, this could be a damaged window or door, or a window or door that may be beyond repair and require replacement.
In relation to any essential work involved in a dwelling, this should only be carried out with the prior willing agreement of the occupants/owners.
- Work that should not be undertaken includes; non-essential home improvements inside occupied properties. This could include work such as upgrading windows and doors, glass interiors (such as screens, partitions, kitchen counter tops, splashbacks etc.), decorative glazing and roof lights (unless deemed an essential replacement).
- Work outside the home on land surrounding the property, the Government guidance shows that this can be carried out if it is safe to do so and in line with Government Guidelines on Social Distancing. This could include conservatories, porches, orangeries, extensions, replacement roofline and glass and garden structures.
- New build and housebuilding, the Government guidance shows this can continue, if it is safe to do so and in line with Government Guidance on Social Distancing and the Site Operating Procedures (SOP) published by the Construction Leadership Council. The latest version of SOP was published on the GGF website on 15 April.
- Manufacturing and processing, the Government advice shows that this can continue, if it is safe to do so and in line with Government Guidance on Social Distancing and guidance on the correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The GGF published this specific guidance on 16 April on the GGF website.
On 4 May, the GGF asked that all Member companies continue to refer to the Government guidelines in conjunction with the above clarification, prior to taking the responsible decision to undertake work or not.
The GGF emphasizes that health & safety comes first and that prior to making any decision, it is advised that all companies undertake a proper health and safety risk assessment for each individual job. The GGF published guidance on health and safety risk assessments on the 7th April.
In addition the GGF urges all companies, prior to undertaking any work, to check with their insurers that they are covered for Public Health and Health and Safety Employer liability.
The GGF also advises that if work is undertaken, that companies must ensure their employees have suitable PPE as outlined in the Government Guidance.
At present, there is no set date for when the Social Distancing guidelines will change or will be eased. It is in anticipated that there will be further Government announcements this month on Social Distancing in the workplace.
The GGF will continue to update Members and the industry as and when information from Government is received.
To see all the COVID-19 updates on the GGF website please visit:www.ggf.org.uk/category/covid-19/
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