COVID-19 home repair safety warning
Monday, May 11, 2020
People are being urged to ensure they continue to get essential maintenance work carried out in their home during the Coronavirus outbreak.
This warning comes amid reports that some people in rented property are reluctant to let tradespeople in their home to carry out important safety checks.
Lancashire Resilience forum, a partnership between the police, fire service and local councils, is encouraging people to ensure that any planned essential repairs and maintenance work are carried out to keep them and their family safe.
Work such as gas safety tests, boiler servicing, electrical appliance checks in rented accommodation, construction work and testing of smoke and fire alarms should continue to be carried out. Failure to do this could have serious consequences.
Government guidance sets out that repairs and maintenance carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson has no COVID-19 symptoms. Tradespeople and residents should keep to the social distancing and hand washing guidelines and rooms should be ventilated where possible.
However, no work should be done in households where people are isolating or being shielded, unless the work is to address a direct risk to people's safety, such as emergency plumbing.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: "Testing of gas and electrical appliances and safety checks are vital in insuring people stay fit and well.
"Reducing dangers such as fire, electric shocks and carbon monoxide poisoning is absolutely vital, so it's essential that people let traders into their home to carry out this planned and much needed work if they can.
"It is important to follow the guidelines regarding social distancing, hand washing and isolating when you have symptoms to keep the risk of spreading Coronavirus to a minimum."
The advice from the county council's trading standards team is to always assess the importance of the work needing to be done and its urgency.
People must never do business on the doorstep. They can use the Lancashire Safe Trader Scheme to access traders who have agreed to abide by a code of conduct and work with Trading Standards in the event of any complaints.
County Councillor Atkinson added: "We want people to be cautious and wait until after the lockdown period to do non-essential jobs, but essential safety maintenance or repairs must be done.
"Landlords will arrange for work to be done in rented properties and you should check with them to find out who will be coming around and completing the work.
"If you have your own property or are arranging the work yourself, we'd never recommend employing the services of cold callers who knock on your door.
"Always do your research, get recommendations from friends or family or use the Lancashire Safe Trader scheme to find a trusted tradesperson.
"You should only let people in to your property where you or your landlord has arranged an appointment.
"You can use door chains, check IDs and call an independently obtained number to verify officials before you let them in."
Mark Hutton, Group Manager for Prevention, Protection and Road Safety at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In the last 12 months there have been over 170 fires linked to electrical causes in houses across Lancashire, ranging from faulty or poorly maintained appliances, to issues with fixed wiring and distribution panels . The consequences can be devastating.
“We recommend that you use industry approved electricians and gas engineers if there is a fault or if the appliances and supply needs servicing. Having a working smoke alarm installed will reduce your risk of getting injured should a fire occur and we urge all householders to ensure that they have one fitted.”
“For more information on product recalls or how to find an electrician, please visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk”
For further advice and to contact Trading Standards, call the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
To access a trader on the safe trader scheme visit www.safetrader.org.uk