Posted by & filed under General.

A chimney sweeps job involves proximity and close contact with several new or different customers each day. Some of these people will either have the covid virus, will be elderly or infirm and could be at increased risk from the infection.

It is our job as professionals to:

1, Safeguard ourselves and families
2, Safeguard our customers.

Covid 19 is an extremely serious condition as it spreads very quickly, has a high mortality rate and the ability to disrupt entire countries.

The following guide should be taken as additional precautions on top of the guidance and rules issued by the government. These will change day to day so follow mainstream media carefully and abide by the requirements.

Luckily as chimney sweeps, we already utilise excellent protective equipment’s however we are using it to guard against soot and not a contagion.

Here are the main bullet points that you should follow:

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY if you are unwell or are experiencing any symptoms such as a fever or new cough: DO NOT go to work, stay at home and self-isolate in accordance with government guidlines.
  • Ask the customer at the point of booking if they are self-isolating or if they have symptoms. If they are then reschedule for when they are well or after their isolation period.
  • Explain at the time of booking that you will meet them at the door wearing your PPE and they must keep at least 2 m away. Telling them in advance and sending them a method statement will build confidence that you are unlikely to infect them and prevent any unnecessary scares.
  • Risk Assess every job
  • Update your public liability and professional indemnity insurance, send the new risk assessments and method statements to your insurer and to the companies or people that use your services.
  • Undertake specific infection control training and get certified.
  • If a job is none urgent or can be postponed then it should be, rebooking during a lull in the outbreak makes the most sense. Perhaps in the summer prior to the new burning season? or when government guidance changes.
  • Before you leave the cab of the van when arriving at the work address.
    1, Wash, dry and Sanitise hands.
    2, Put on new disposable nitrile gloves.
    3 Put on your clean P3 rated Respirator, ideally full face. If using a half mask, you will need goggles. A PAPR Full faced hood type respirator fitted wit a PR-SL + nuisance level organic gas cartridge is best practice as the face and head are completely covered and therefore better protected. High efficiency Particulate Respirator filters with additional nuisance level organic vapor or acid gas relief are specifically recommended due to the particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contained in the soot matrix.
    4, Put on new disposable Category 111 Type 5/6 coveralls and then overshoes.
  • Exclude the customer from the working area!. close the door and put a warning notice and a cone outside in a clearly visible spot to prevent unwanted entry.
  • Abide by all social distancing rules! Your risk assessment must not solely rely on PPE, instead it should prioritise exclusion of those at risk from the working area/ jobsite and face to face contact.
  • DO NOT eat or drink in a customer’s home or at any time while wearing your PPE, Avoid touching your face.
  • Use only clean dust sheets.
  • Do not remove your PPE while doing any part of the job including taking payment and issuing certificates. It is sensible to change to a clean pair of gloves prior to this.
  • Ideally take payment forms which do not involve contact such as BACS. Contact with cash and coins are accepted high risk factors as the virus can live for extended periods outside of the body.
  • Disinfect any surface you may have touched using an approved anti viral disinfectant.
  • When removing PPE after job completion and about to re-enter the van.
    1, Remove and bag coveralls and overshoes, turn coveralls inside out as you remove them and place them immediately in a red asbestos or sharps bag. Be careful not to touch the outside while removing.
    2. Remove gloves and place in the above bag
    3. Wash hands in soap and water and put on fresh gloves.  
    4. Remove Goggles and then finally respirator. DO NOT TOUCH your skin in the process or the filter element of the respirator or facepiece.
    5. Sanitise mask and goggles using respirator decontamination wipes.
    6. Again sanitise hands with alcohol based hand sanitiser. Do not touch your face, eyes or mouth during the doffing process. Pack your respirator in a clean bag ready for use on the next job after cleaning
  • Change respirator filters often and in accordance with manufacturers specification
  • 7, Hot wash used dust sheets and protective clothing that is not disposable daily. Transport it in a sealed polythene asbestos bag away from other kit.
  • 8, Disinfect and wash all equipment at the end of every day, wipe down tools and kit throughout the working day and between each job with an approved anti viral disinfectant. PPE must be used while cleaning and when handling used sheets etc. Respirators must be fully disinfected and sterilised inline with manufactures instructions. The process for 3m PAPR systems can be found here: https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1793956O/cleaning-and-disinfecting-3m-paprs-following-potential-exposure-to-coronaviruses.pdf

These steps will not eliminate the risk completely but will greatly reduce it when combined with infection control training, good practice and correct PPE.

TIP: Those using negative pressure half masks, tight fitting full masks or FFP3 face pieces will need have a face fit test for their chosen model of respirator in order to ensure their safety, gain the conformity certificate and to comply with health and safety law. https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/face-mask-ppe-rpe-coronavirus.htm Negative pressure and tight fitting masks cannot seal or work correctly if you have facial hair. You must be clean shaven. Using an open fitting helmet or hood type PAPR system avoids the necessity of a face fit test, provides very high levels of personal protection and user comfort and can be used with facial hair.

NOTE FFP3 face pieces are in high demand by the NHS and will be for some time. It is our recommendation that a more industrial solution for your RPE should be used to avoid competition with front line workers!

We believe that customers need to be reassured that they are not at additional risk from us. These simple steps will ensure our customers can stay warm and safe without the added worry of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning during these challenging times.

For consumers that are worried the above information can be used to question your sweep prior to their arrival or booking.

Sweep Safe
For the Chimney Sweep
For The Consumer
For The Environment