Your toilet is bunged up with kitchen paper. Putting on too many household appliances as you’re now home all day has blown a fuse.
You’ve discovered termites after – out of boredom – you cleaned out the cellar, or you’re mid-way through a renovation and need expert help.
Now you have to call a tradie but, in these strange coronavirus days, you’re a little worried about having a stranger in your home.
The message from the tradies, however, is: Don’t fear, they’re here to help, and they’re taking all the right precautions.
“A builder friend of mine just told me that two bigger end renovations he was working on, both worth around $1 million each, have just been cancelled by the customer,” says plumber Murray Mclerie, who runs his own business.
“But obviously, all tradies are now taking precautions to make sure we’re safe and that we can continue to do the work we’re being hired to do. For instance, I never now shake the hands of customers, like I used to, I make sure I keep my distance from others when in a home, and I wear gloves.”
Electrician Rob Mifsud also practises safe steps. He no longer shakes hands, washes his hands frequently and uses hand sanitiser constantly. “When I go into apartments, nearly all the blocks have hand sanitisers for us to use as we go in,” he says.
“Some of the bigger blocks also spray the apartment keys they give us, and then spray them again when we give them back. There’s also often sanitisers outside the lifts for us to use to make sure we’re all absolutely safe.”
Australia’s largest online marketplace for tradies, Hipages, which deals with around 40,000 tradies, has also issued new guidelines for people hiring tradies. These include greeting the tradie at the door but remaining a safe “social distance”, and not shaking hands.
Further, householders should always offer the tradie the chance to wash their hands before they start their job, with a clean towel or paper towel to dry them, and use electronic payment options to avoid handling cash.
These are in addition to Safe Work Australia procedures that suggest tradies, like the rest of us, should clean their hands regularly for 20 seconds, avoid touching their faces, and avoid close contact.
At Carpentry Australia, operations manager James Denton says they’re promoting the virus protocols to all chippies. “We’re telling them to wash their hands, not to share tools or drink bottles and no high-fives, handshaking or close contact,” he says. “It’s all the normal things that we’ve been told by the government.”
In addition, he urges any customers who are feeling unwell to make sure they tell their tradie, and keep a safe distance or, even better, stay confined to a bedroom or well away from the worker. “We all want to be safe,” he says.
In such trying times, it’s more important than ever, too, to be polite to a tradie visiting your home. Remember, they’re also under enormous strain.
People are cancelling jobs not only because they’re suddenly nervous when a stranger calls, but also because of their own insecurities. “I think people are now more worried about the economy, and that’s why some are cancelling jobs,” says Mclerie.
And Mifsud says there are fears about shortages of materials and products needed by all trades, often when they’re being supplied from overseas. “Getting gear brought in from China is affecting us,” he says. “It’s getting more difficult.”
- If you have booked a tradesperson to work on your home, or it’s an emergency, make sure you are following the Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines.
- If you are in self-isolation due to recent overseas travel or close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, do not see visitors, including tradespeople. Read the Department of Health’s self-isolation guidelines for more information.
- If you are in self-isolation and there is an urgent problem with your home that requires a tradesperson, call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080 for advice on how to proceed.