A new dawn

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell welcomes the green light to return to work.

So much can happen in a week. Looking back at what I wrote seven days ago, we still had the lockdown mentality, but today heralds a new dawn: window installers can resume work.

Seventy percent of the glass and glazing industry’s work is generated by the retail market, and since that sector was deemed off limits due to the coronavirus, we came to a juddering halt.

Yes, some demands have been made by the commercial sector, but there needs to be capacity before it becomes economically viable for businesses to open their doors.

However, from today (May 13), we should start to see installers allowed back in to people’s homes. Here is the government’s official position. Section 3.1 states: “These ‘back to work’ guidelines apply to those in essential retail like … tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes.”

The word ‘essential’ crops up here again, but the government also explicitly states that “non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed”.

It is a grey area, and some have suggested that while window fitters are allowed in people’s homes, showrooms should remain closed.

Certass’s Jon Vanstone clarified the position yesterday:

Following calls with government this morning there is a new position enabling glazing installers to work in the home, but comes with some information that needs to be understood:

If the R rate exceeds 1 then the situation will be re-evaluated.

All tradespeople need to follow H&S guidance when working in the home (see our method statements).

Government does not accept liability for the spread of the virus that may be caused by tradespeople working in the home.

The government believes that tradespeople are more likely to maintain safe distancing and practices than people meeting up with their family (hence differences in restrictions).

Tradespeople should keep documentary evidence to protect themselves from liability as it may be requested at a later date.

It is understood that the infection rate will increase.

The ability to work in the home is for England only.

If your business decides it is too risky/unsafe to work then the financial support schemes remain available.

Certass has also issued risk assistance guidance for its members, to help them safely resume work, and to stay within the guidelines. This guidance has also been submitted to government to help it prepare something centrally.

On Monday, Certass held a Zoom press briefing, where Jon explained how the new Covid Secure Procedures Pack for installers work. (It is worth recognising at this point that Jon has been very active during this period of lockdown, providing clarity to Certass members – who have been very open with their appreciation on social media – and lobbying government, with direct access to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on glass and glazing’s behalf.)

Corgi Fenestration had already issued something for its members.

Emplas has also provided something similar for its customers. “The rules set out by government aren’t industry specific,” Emplas MD Ryan Johnson said. “We believe in providing practical examples of how they will apply in the window industry, so we can help customers get to grips with new conditions for working sooner, supporting a more effective industry recovery.”

Two things are at play here: the government wants to get the economy moving again, while keeping people safe and not forcing people back to work. Therefore, if companies can prove that they can work safely in people’s homes, using the tools and guidance provided by industry bodies and suppliers, then that will be actively encouraged.