The first stage of lifting lockdown has stipulated that if you cannot work from home then you can go to work. Many advisers, brokers and Will Writers will be lucky that they can work from home, but there are likely to be scenarios when you do need to visit a client in their home.
We take a look at the key elements to consider if you work in this industry, based on government advice.
Think about the risk:
Firstly consider the risk. It might be a good idea to spend a bit of time thinking about the potential risk for visiting clients at home and you may wish to carry out a risk assessment to ensure any potential hazards are removed. The HSE have created Risk Assessment guidance here.
Once you have completed a Risk Assessment you may decide you wish to show you have done this to customers. You can include it on your website or email it through to clients ahead of a visit.
There are some key steps to managing risk when entering a client’s home which include assessing the following:
Is anyone in isolation?
No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield - unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.
Is anyone classed as being vulnerable?
When working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable, but has not been asked to shield, for example, the home of someone over 70, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.
In this instance consider if a video call or a phone call will be satisfactory. If a home visit is required then consider communicating through a window, in the garden or with another member of the household.
Appointments in the home
Appointment in the home should only be made if other alternative methods such as video calls or phone calls are not viable for the requirement – such as if you need documents signing and need to witness this is being done correctly. See our previous blog on options for communicating with clients effectively from home.
- Communicate with households prior to any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties.
- Maintaining social distance as far as possible. Discussing with households ahead of a visit to ask that a 2m distance is kept from those working, if possible.
- Only absolutely necessary participants should attend appointments
- Avoid transmission during appointments, for example, from sharing pens and other objects.
- Hold meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.
- Communicate with households prior to arrival, and on arrival, to ensure the household understands the social distancing and hygiene measures that should be followed once work has commenced.
Do you require PPE?
Government advice is that workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited.
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 then you should not be making appointments to visit people in their home, you should be self-isolating.
A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose.
Similarly gloves provide very little safety against COVID-19, and can in fact help spread it further across surfaces. Washing of hands and good hand hygiene provides better protection.
Before making an appointment to see a client in their home ensure you have a clear requirement for going, assess the risks and communicate clearly with the client beforehand regarding expectations of safety during the visit.
Where to obtain further guidance