24 March 2020
We have received many requests for clarification on the Government rules on key workers over the last few days. The LCA cannot give a firm definition on this because the Government has not and there remain many gaps in, what is, an evolving policy.
As a membership organisation, we can try to help our members by giving our interpretation of the rules and how they apply to our industry. While this interpretation may help, there are no guarantees that it will be accepted by Government and Government rules may change or tighten further.
The rules (as of the 24th of March 2020) define key workers and some parts of the definition can be interpreted to include legionella control work. There is certainly an argument to be made that for essential services that require evaporative cooling, the staff maintaining those services would be classified as key workers. Below we have identified some areas where LCA members providing critical services may be classified as key workers.
Health and Social Care
Support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector. Legionella control (and other pathogens) may fall under this definition as it will still need to be maintained.
Food and Other Necessary Goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods. Biocides, laboratory analysis and other products critical to keeping water systems safe may fall under this definition.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for ………. water sectors. While this is mainly aimed at water supply and sewerage undertakers, there are critical aspects involved in legionella control in water systems.
What You Should Consider
- Is the work critical? Evaporative cooling systems should be maintained as usual or switched off and there is little to no leeway in that. Hot and cold water systems that have a good record of control would ordinarily be able to cope with a short gap in monitoring but consider the lack of use due to empty or under-occupied buildings.
- Are the staff you are putting in the field in low-risk groups for Covid-19? Risk assess your staff and their exposure. Record this process and be prepared to demonstrate this to your clients or others.
- Have you advised your clients of a considered way forward for their water system based on risk? Manufacturing and process evaporative cooling is likely to remain largely operational but for the purposes of comfort cooling in largely empty offices in Spring – reasonably practicable looks a little different.
- Minimise contact with other people and avoid public transport.
- Reinforce good handwashing practice.
- Be prepared to justify your presence if challenged. We suggest you prepare a simple letter to be carried by your staff in the field describing their activities and why you consider them to be key workers.