Even within the pandemic, plumbers, electricians reply emergency requires damaged bogs, furnaces
The coronavirus is gaining global attention, but when you are quarantined at home with your family and stop washing your dresser, that too rises to crisis levels.
Much of the workforce has been idle for weeks as it has been closed due to the pandemic. But legions of plumbers, electricians, and other contractors have continued to answer service calls to households that need water heaters, stoves, and roofs to be repaired.
To ensure the health and safety of technicians and homeowners alike amid the highly contagious virus outbreak, companies are taking a tiered approach.
For example, Handyside Plumbing in Fairview Township requires all technicians to wear gloves, face masks and ankle boots. They’ve also provided ample hand sanitizer for technicians.
“They have greeted customers with a wave of no handshakes,” said Carley Lorditch, the office manager. “Imagine you had a dresser in your house and it was blocked. Craftsmen are now more important than ever to ensure that the central processes in your house work. “
Contractors have been instructed to wash their hands frequently, even if just getting into their vans. They were also instructed to keep a safe distance from homeowners.
“We have had specific instructions for customers to have the technician enter the house while they are locking themselves into a specific area of the house,” said Lorditch.
At least 240 people have died from complications from the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, including 78 new deaths reported Tuesday, according to the state health department. The coronavirus was diagnosed in 14,559 patients nationwide. 1,579 new cases were reported today.
The majority of companies have gone paperless and have eliminated paper and ink signatures altogether instead of restricting themselves to online unsubscribes.
Many companies have also introduced virtual diagnostics and consultations.
Handyside uses remote advice.
“It allows us to meet through Zoom, but not in person so we don’t have to step into their homes,” Lorditch said. “It makes people feel good that they have this option.”
Haller Enterprises has introduced a remote assistance program that allows homeowners to speak to an expert over the phone or video chat to diagnose a problem without the need for a home visit.
“If we think it could be something we can possibly do over the phone or the homeowner can do it himself, the service technician in the office will basically walk you through it,” said Aaron Becker, president of Haller Enterprises. “Basically, it’s facetiming with the homeowner and going over them to see if we can fix the equipment from our office so we don’t have to come out.”
Homeowners also use online consultations to provide the technician with a virtual tour of the fastest, least frequented passage in their home to get to the equipment.
“It also allows us to know what kind of equipment they have so we can come out with the right equipment and limit the times we have to go in and out of the house,” Becker said.
Harrisburg-based Local Union 520 for Installers, Piping Installers, and HVAC Technicians has extensive professional guidelines on their website that cover a wide range of topics that can affect the safety of technicians.
For example, the union points out that the Coronavirus can survive in human feces, according to the Centers for Disease Control, although it’s unclear how long. Virus outbreaks have also been attributed to plumbing drains and “open” ventilation systems.
“… As long as the pandemic is still active, anyone working on a sewer system should assume the virus is present,” the union statement said. “All installers and HVAC service technicians working on these systems are strongly advised to wear personal protective equipment, including a face mask that is worn over safety glasses, impervious gloves, and protective clothing because of the potential for exposure to water and aerosols the coronavirus when working on sanitary facilities or sewers. Suppose everything in this system is contagious. “
The union also recommends that appropriate personal protective equipment be provided for any contractor working near roof vents and HVAC equipment, especially exhaust fans. The union also recommends that in addition to washing hands, technicians wash their arms and face with soap and water for 20 seconds immediately after removing their PPE.
Becker said his company is checking service calls to see if anyone in the household has tested positive or has contracted COVID-19.
“That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing the service, but we will add extra safeguards with raised face masks and protective suits,” he said. “We want to make sure we take care of everyone.”
Haller introduced a company-wide security protocol in March, including contactless delivery to warehouses. The company also tracks employee trips to record face-to-face interactions in case someone tests positive or becomes ill.
Becker said homeowners are happy with the security protocol.
“There are so many unknowns for everyone,” said Becker. “It’s not just a person walking into my house or a co-worker walking in. Given the increased awareness of this virus, we need to take extra precautions. All customers we have been in contact with are very grateful. “
Some business owners have turned their attention to the legislation.
Fred Fortino, owner of Rl Snyder Electric Inc. of Harrisburg, is part of a group of contractors calling on lawmakers to lift restrictions on the construction industry.
“Most people on a construction site are not on top of each other. They are more than 6 feet apart, with our people outdoors and everyone working, said Fortino, whose business is typically mostly commercial but has taken more residential 911 calls amid the pandemic.
The General Assembly continued this week to review appeals from industries seeking an exemption from the list of companies to remain closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Two actions were taken on Monday in a House Committee. The bills aim to reset parts of Governor Tom Wolf’s business closure order. The measures are currently being prepared in order to enable the company to carry out a full examination.
Wolf ordered the closure of all non-life support businesses on March 19, but envisaged a waiver process for those businesses to seek an exemption from the closure order.
Fortino said he was confident his technicians and homeowners would be protected as all technicians wear masks, ankle boots and gloves at work – and all have hand sanitizer in their trucks. However, he’s not that optimistic about his industry.
“It has hindered our industry tremendously,” said Fortino. “Lots of companies won’t come back to this.”
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The Amish are facing unique challenges with the coronavirus