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

Wednesday 25th March 2020

Advice and guidance issued today by Gas Safety Register for both engineers and landlords regarding new restrictions placed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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

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 they 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.   

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

General Information: Gas Safe Register service 

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

All of other services are available online, at www.gassaferegister.co.uk, or you can email them 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 the GSR 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 a voicemail message for a call back.  

General Information: Inspections 

Where inspections or investigations must take place, 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

GSR are aware that the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK may make it more difficult for landlords to arrange annual safety checks in some cases, as tenants may need to self-isolate for 14 days, or longer periods, and as registered gas engineers availability reduces due to the same measures.

The latest restrictions on leaving the home, announced by the UK government on 23rd March currently allow Registered Gas Engineers to undertake essential work, whilst taking the appropriate precautions advised to avoid spreading or contracting the virus in a new setting.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

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

Landlords have 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.

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.

In the event you are unable to gain access to the property, e.g. persistent refusal of access due to vulnerable tenants self-isolating, you will be expected to be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to comply with the law, and that you are seeking to arrange the safety check as soon as all parties are able. This will need to include records of communication with the tenant, and details of your engineers attempts to gain access.

Registered Businesses/Engineers

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.

The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK