Housing market boost as valuers allowed back to work
The government has issued guidance for workers who must enter people’s homes, including surveyors, on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The advice was prepared by the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and applies to those who are employed or self-employed.
The document asks employers to carry out risk assessments and consult staff on how to carry out their work safely.
Keeping employees safe
The guidance suggests frequent hand washing, surface cleaning and keeping activity time to a minimum where possible. It says no work should be carried out in a household where anyone is isolating due to showing symptoms of Covid-19. For those who are in the vulnerable category prior arrangements should be made to avoid face-to-face contact.
Clinically vulnerable workers have also been advised not to work outside of the home and employers have added responsibilities for disabled employees or new and expectant mothers.
The government said that digital and remote alternatives should be used where possible.
Commuting and working on site
For those travelling to work, the government said their own mode of transport must be used where insurance allows.
Vehicles must also be cleaned regularly, and windows can be opened to allow for ventilation.
Employees should wash their hands on arrival to the site and maintain social distancing once inside the home. Social distancing should also be discussed with a household before works take place.
Internal doors should be left open to minimise contact with door handles and movement through tight areas such as corridors and stairways must be kept to a minimum.
Workplaces that are already making use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should continue to do so and the use of PPE to protect workers against a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 should not be encouraged.
The additional use of PPE beyond what is usually used is not beneficial, the government said, as the risks should be managed by social distancing and hygiene practices. Wearing face coverings is optional and not required by law.
If a firm’s risk assessment shows PPE is required then it must be provided to employees for free.
‘Back in business’
Joe Arnold, managing director at Arnold & Baldwin Chartered Surveyors, said: “This is excellent news for the property market as it means that we are effectively back in business. It does state however, digital inspections are to be undertaken where possible and physical inspections should be avoided.
“At Arnold & Baldwin, we believe the best way to truly understand the condition and value of a property is with a physical inspection and our surveyors are prepared with the right guidance and equipment to begin visiting properties again.”
Chris Bramham, commercial operations director at Metropolis, added: “We already formed a plan in terms of what we would do around guidance when we book jobs and what the surveyor does on site, but what we needed was a green light from the government.
“We’ll supply staff with PPE where we can, follow the protocol that’s in place, making sure we’re thorough with booking the jobs so nobody is at risk. Ultimately, we’ve got a responsibility to keep everyone safe, but this can be done.”
“Now it’s about what lender appetite. There is a backlog and that needs to be moved. It’ll take a little while to get things moving but there’s no reason why this can’t be up and running relatively quickly,” Bramham said.