Everyone is talking about the virus. You can’t go anywhere without masked individuals reminding you of the current state of the nation. Everywhere you turn, it seems news surrounding coronavirus has taken over your social media feed and your day to day life. So, how can do you part as an HVAC or emergency plumbing service? Obviously, the wellbeing of your employees should be your top priority during a pandemic. However, you may not know the proper regulations to implement. Therefore, if you wish to keep you field service employees safe during the pandemic, continue reading to learn about some of the top tips that business across the nation are instating.
Understand How the Virus Spreads and Educate Your Employees
According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads through close person-to-person contact. Someone who is infected doesn’t always show signs of carrying the disease. This is major information — as many people believe they should only avoid people who look visibly sick.
However, anyone can be a carrier.
Those with a weaker immune system are at a higher risk, but this is not to say that healthy adults can’t also contract the virus and its symptoms.
Respiratory droplets can even be passed in between healthy individuals during a simple conversation, which is why social distancing is so crucial during the fight against COVID-19.
With this in mind, take the time to draft an email outlining these key points, so your workers can stay safe while on the job and in their day to day lives.
You can also schedule a Zoom work call to relay this information, as well as any new work procedures. If you have multiple employees, hold two or three work meetings if you feel meeting in person is necessary.
Decide Whether or Not it’s Safe to Open
If you’re an air conditioning contractor, your services are essential, meaning your clients will expect you to remain open throughout this pandemic.
But you’re going to have to change your entire business model in order to make it safer for everyone!
Keep Your Main Office Clean
Run an HVAC company office? Make sure you are keeping the area free from contaminants. Keeping employees safe requires intensive cleaning measures.
Take note from bars, gyms, and restaurants in the area and try to hire someone who can religiously clean and disinfect the surfaces of high traffic areas. If you’re unable to hire someone new, have a current employee take on this role.
You can even wipe down surfaces yourself using a Lysol wipe.
Pardon Employees Who Call in Sick
If you had a strict policy about employees calling in sick before the virus, disband this practice immediately. If your employees are out visiting customers, they can spread the virus to their families.
Encourage to make the responsible decision if they are experiencing the following symptoms.
- chest pains
- uncontrollable cough
- loss of taste or smell
- shortness of breath
- intense body aches and soreness
These symptoms can also appear 2-14 days from the date of exposure and should be monitored until the person is feeling better.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should get tested, so learn where your nearest testing centers are and direct your employees there if they fear they’ve contracted the virus. Your residential plumbing services can wait until they are feeling healthy.
Create a Plan for Absent Employees
However, this doesn’t mean that an employee calling in sick won’t affect your business for the day. Understand that they must stay home to recover, but also have a plan set in place. Will you have an employee on call who can take their place? Are you prepared to move another worker’s schedule around to accommodate this gap on the agenda?
Perhaps, you can fill in for them yourself.
Regardless of what you decide, make sure your plan is solid before opening your plumbing or HVAC business back up.
Buy a Touchless Thermometer and Check Temperatures at the Door
If your employees are nervous about missing a day of work, they may not stay home when feeling under the weather. So, take matters into your own hands and purchase a touchless thermometer.
Make Masks Mandatory
This rule must be implemented if you’re planning on keeping employees safe throughout the pandemic.
Highly encourage employees to wear their masks anytime they’re inside a client’s home. Masks are effective at trapping contaminated droplets in case someone sneezes or coughs. These are popular and effective masks that citizens across the country are currently using.
- Cloth Masks: These are easy to make at home. They also come in a variety of fun colors and patterns. However, cloth masks tend to feel heavier against the skin and mouth. They are also plentiful since the mask options below are typically reserved for healthcare professionals. If your employees choose to wear a cloth mask while working in a client’s home, warn them to never touch their mask without washing their hands first. These masks can be reused often and should be thrown into the wash every day or every other day to combat germs.
- Surgical Masks: Surgical masks are a more lightweight option. Buy these in bulk if you can. You can distribute them to your employees who have forgotten to bring their own mask to work.
- N-95 Masks: These masks are more protective and effective at keeping employees safe. They can filter out large quantities of air, blocking 95% of particles, and contaminated droplets.
Sanitize Company Vehicles
Do you own an appliance repair company with a fleet of cars or vans to help your for keeping employees safe throughout the pandemic.
Ensure that you’re cleaning and sanitizing these cars thoroughly. Use a soft microfiber cloth as not to damage the interior.
Wipe the seats down with an effective cleanser. Then, clean the steering wheel, mirrors, and throw the mats in the wash.
Have your employees conduct this ritual every two days or so, however, if they feel comfortable disinfecting the interior every day after their shift, even better!
Stagger Break Times Around the Office
When your employees aren’t on duty, make sure you have them stagger their breaks inside the office. This can decrease the number of people in a close-knit space at one time.
Be Wary About International Travel and Vacations
This applies to the employer as well, but if a worker has an international trip booked, ask them to return to work two weeks after they get back. Though international travel is banned at the moment, you want to take the proper precautions when the boarders do open back up.
However, the same can be said for you, the employer, as well. If you feel that you need a vacation within the next few months, travel somewhere close by, and avoid heavy crowds. Heading to a nature preserve, or going camping for a weekend is optimal, as you won’t be in close contact with hundreds of people and expose yourself to the virus. Keeping employees safe can feel like a sacrifice sometimes, but it’s 100% worth it if you want to set a good example.
Avoid Work-Related Conventions and Trade Shows Until Further Notice
Working in the plumbing industry has its perks. You get to attend trade shows and conventions and learn about some great technology rolling out before anyone else.
However, give the current state of the nation, it’s best to avoid these gatherings at all costs.
Stock Up On Handsoap
Use a handsoap that can kill bacteria when keeping employees safe.
Call Customers Ahead of Time
Have employees give their clients a 25-minute warning before they head over. This allows family members to lead high-risk members towards another room, so employees can work without distractions or fear.
Remind Employees to Keep a Safe Distance
We have only recently implemented social distancing measures of remaining six feet apart from other people while out in the world. It’s natural to forget, so remind your employees often when keeping employees safe.
Encourage Employees to Stop Shaking Hands With Clients
Not only does this break the ‘six feet apart’ rule, but it’s also a quick way to spread coronavirus, as it can enter the body through the mouth, eyes, or nose. If either party scratches their face without first washing their hands, you could contaminate yourself.
Keeping employees safe means keeping a safe distance.
If you have a pair of employees within your water heater installation company that like to tackle jobs as a team, disband this practice. Train employees to work better alone, at least for the time being. The fewer number of people in one house, the better.
Have Employees Carry Emergency Hand Sanitizer
This may be one of the easiest ways you can start keeping employees safe when they visit your clients.
If for whatever reason your employees don’t have access to a sink, water, and anti-bacterial soap, hand sanitizer can be a true lifesaver.
Sanitize All Tools Immediately
Have employees sanitize all of their tools after finishing a job. 70% isopropyl alcohol can kill most germs and bacteria, and it’s safe to use on your main tools as well if you run a residential door repair company. Wipe down storm doors, handles, or anything they might have come into contact with when returning from a job.
Workers should also sanitize their clothing, shoes, and masks.
Have Employees Deny Food and Drink
Clients love to be hospitable towards your employees. However, offering food or drink during this time may increase your employee’s chance of contracting the virus.
Ask your employees to kindly refuse lemonade or any free snacks that may come their way, and explain that it’s for the safety of both parties.
Ask Employees to Avoid Pets in the Client’s Home
There is little risk of getting coronavirus from a household pet while conducting refrigeration services. According to the CDC, there have only been a few cases. However, if you want to eliminate all risks, it’s best to avoid all unknown animals completely until the number of cases in the country wanes down.
Implement COVID-19 Regulation Reminders
Keeping employees safe is a constant battle, as it’s easy to forget about how serious the pandemic is with so many stores and businesses opening up.
Add markers, signs, or posters to remind everyone about these special and unique new rules. You can also send reminders through text or email.
We all have to do our part during the pandemic, especially if you’re keeping employees safe while running your own heater repair company. Just because we’re leaving our homes, doesn’t mean we are completely out of the water yet.
There’s still lots of work to be done — and many safety measures to instill, perhaps permanently. So, if you own a plumbing or service company where your employees are entering other people’s homes, consider implementing many of these tips to keep your customers and workers safe.