For heating technicians – who do not have the option of working from home – we recognise that things have been exceptionally hard. To begin with there was complete confusion in the UK as to whether heating technicians were key workers and therefore eligible for childcare within school settings. Then, there was a further lack of clarity as to whether any work at all could continue in people’s homes.
One thing that certainly is clear – visiting homes in the course of repairing broken heating systems puts technicians at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s also clear that those that have managed to continue working have been very much appreciated by their customers. We hope that those who have stopped working due to childcare constraints or health issues will be able to swiftly resume once restrictions are relaxed and it is safe to do so.
Support for registered businesses
We have sent technicians several email updates and you may have already seen our information page on: www.oftec.org, but here’s a quick summary:
Automatic FREE EXTENSION to your registration
All those businesses and technicians with active registration on 24th March 2020 have automatically received a free registration extension of two months. This covers all the schemes and additional scopes you are registered with through OFTEC. This amounts to approximately 6,900 businesses and 9,800 technicians across UK and Ireland. So, if your registration was due to expire on 1st May, it will now expire on 1st July at no extra cost to you.
Automatic FREE EXTENSION to your qualifications
If your qualifications were due to lapse before 31st May, you have received an automatic three-month extension. This recognises the fact that most training centres have been closed and so it will not be possible to re-sit qualifications until the UK/Irish restrictions have been lifted. So, if your qualifications were due to lapse on 1st May you now have until 1st August.
We will keep monitoring the situation and keep you informed by email of any further changes. You can also keep checking for updates on our information page at: www.oftec.org/technicians/covid-19-information-page.
Government financial support packages
The UK and Irish governments have put in place unprecedented financial support measures – links to all of these can be found here: www.oftec.org/technicians/covid-19-information-page.
Our offices have remained open but with a skeleton staff, working remotely, for essential services.
• The technical helpline will continue to run as normal.
• Technical book updates can still be downloaded from: www.oftec.org
• For login issues, please email: email@example.com.
• Registration services will be limited to general enquiries and online services available at:
• works notifications
• updating your contact details
• renewing your registration online.
• OFTEC Direct is temporarily closed.
• All inspection work has been stopped temporarily.
• Deadlines from any non-conformities from an inspection have been extended until works can be completed safely.
• The compliance team will only respond to matters where there is a significant risk of harm to people, property or the environment.
Although staff may be reached by the usual phone numbers, we strongly recommend you email your queries through to us. Bear with us if response times are longer than usual.
It’s extremely likely that the fall out from COVID-19 will continue to affect many aspects of our daily lives for some considerable time to come. OFTEC will support registered technicians throughout this difficult period and we look forward to providing our services for you into the future.
The UK government has provided the following guidance:
“Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.”
They also state: “You should notify all clients in advance of your arrival. On entry to the home you should wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, and when leaving the property. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should carry this with you at all times. You should ensure good ventilation in the area where you are working, including opening the window.”
“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
“No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”
In the Republic of Ireland, only emergency call out work may currently take place, but the above advice would also be good practice at this time.
There are some variations on the UK guidance in Wales, Scotland and NI – links to the latest information for all regions of the UK and the Republic of Ireland are on the OFTEC information page bit.ly/OFTEC-COVID-19-Info.
This guidance was reviewed on 30/04/2020 – check online for the latest information.