Understanding COVID-19 exposure for professional plumbers
As of 11 March 2020, World Plumbing Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak as a pandemic as it has spread to all inhabited continents. Despite this, there isn’t much known about its transmissibility, how long it can survive on various surfaces or in water.
While it’s known to only affect the people with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, it’s still more dangerous than the common flu.
Because of this, it’s important for those in the plumbing industry to understand the implications and what steps they can take to stay safe.
It is likely that COVID-19 can indeed be spread through building sanitary drainage systems. This became apparent when the Chinese government identified an outbreak in a Hong Kong high-rise building a few weeks ago.
As long as the pandemic is still active, it should be assumed by anyone working on a sanitary drainage system that the virus is present. Considering the high likelihood that people working here may come in contact with water that could contain COVID-19, it’s recommended that plumbers wear proper personal protective equipment, including a full face shield that is worn over safety glasses and gloves.
Plumbers are no stranger to working with sanitary drainage systems with dangerous pathogens every day and are aware of the correct safety precautions needed to prevent contact with wastewater.
Additionally, ASSE International is making the ASSE Series 12000 Standard available for free here. This international standard for Professional Qualifications Standard for Infection Control Risk Assessment for All Building Systems set the minimum safety criteria for working in an environment with potentially deadly diseases.
And last but not least, common sense always reigns supreme. Plumbers are advised to increase the frequency and length of hand washing, avoid touching of the face, cover all open cuts or wounds and wear proper protective gear.