Plumbers urged to take precautions against COVID-19 virus


As long as the COVID-19 pandemic is active, anyone working on a sanitary drainage system should assume that the virus is present, reports International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

The virus has been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization – meaning it is an epidemic occurring worldwide affecting a large number of people. The worldwide number of people diagnosed has surpassed 120,000, with more than 4,300 deaths, reports IAPMO.

Plumbers are urged to wear proper personal protective equipment, including full-face shields that are worn over safety glasses and gloves. They are also advised to increase the frequency of handwashing and wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, avoid touching their face, cover any open cut or wounds, and wear the proper equipment.

“If you personally come into close-proximity or into direct contact with an infected person, immediately report the incident to your supervisor and to your doctor or healthcare provider,” recommends IAPMO.

COVID-19 is part of the coronavirus family, which is named because, when viewed under a microscope, they have protrusions that resemble a crown. Corona means crown in Spanish. The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China.

Currently, there is still little known about the virus, including transmissibility, how long it can survive on various surfaces or in water, and the range of illness severity. It should be noted that the coronavirus is considerably more dangerous than the current annual influenza virus, says IAPMO.

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – in Canada it would be the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) – provides standards for worker protection. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1926, provides the requirements for construction worker safety, including plumbers who work on sanitary drains, vent systems and sewers.

IAPMO suggests that plumbers around consider obtaining professional qualification for infection control risk assessment especially when working on sanitary systems that high probability of being contaminated with COVID-19.

There is no vaccine or treatment currently available. Symptoms associated with the virus include fever, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough. It can take between two to 14 days to become apparent after exposure. IAPMO recommends plumbers stop work immediately if they feel ill and, to protect coworkers, go home, contact a doctor, and follow their orders.

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