This page will be updated throughout the month with the latest plumbing news, updates for lecturers, students and apprentices, plus the best of social media.
Thursday 30 April
Vaillant and Glow-worm increases digital learning available
Installers and contractors can now sign up for free, online training courses on some of the industry’s hottest topics, including the decarbonisation of heat in buildings, hydrogen and other green gases, and the use of plate heat exchangers in commercial systems.
The company has also added to its online learning portfolio with the addition of its popular Business Support Clinics. The 2020 clinics include a new team of experts all on hand to offer free advice on issues affecting the trade in a series of hour-long interactive webinars – meaning members of the Vaillant Advance or Glow-worm Club Energy loyalty programmes can register and receive the advice for free.
Free Wera Tool with Testo Flue Gas Analyser Kits
Starting tomorrow, Testo is giving away a free Wera multitool worth £45 with every new flue gas analyser kit.
To get your new kit and free Wera Tool simply contact your local Testo stockist online or visit their web page here – offer closes 31st August.
Wednesday 29 April
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The year is 2020 #covid_19 is making us do some CRAZY things while sat at home, so here’s the #DontRushChallenge from a group of tradesmen. It’s all just a bit of fun, I hope you enjoy it, it was fun making it. #Instagram #tiktok #challenge #Fun #trade #plumbing #hunk #Lads #boys #smart #beer #stayhome #staysafe #irbheating @jcwplumbingheating @squiresplumbing @_davetheplumber_ @glisterservices @irbheating @streets_ahead_plumbing_heating @leggytheplumber @peakufh @stylesplumbing @henritaylorheating @accuwarm @jf_plumbuild_ @lukesparky @spartan_gas_and_heating @snlhomerepairs @hoskins_heating @lukebaileyplumbing @aro.plumbing @mike_the_cambridge_plumber @cj_plumbing_heating @s_l_plumbing @cr_plumbing @przmtechnology @_joel_heating @professional_plumbingsolutions
Who did it better – the #tradieladies or the #tradehunks?
Pacifica Group calls for government-led social distancing certification
National domestic energy and appliance services company Pacifica Group has written to the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy to recommend an initiative to provide formal social distancing training that would provide increased reassurance to tradespeople and the public.
The initiative would provide an online training portal that covers the fundamentals of COVID-19 infection prevention and control to provide a recognised standard.
As a result of completing the training tradespeople would receive displayable certification, which would also be an important part of protecting engineers from infection as it would remind customers of their responsibilities when their tradesperson arrives at their home.
Kevin Brown, CEO of Pacifica Group, said: “A scheme for tailored for tradespeople would give the public the confidence to welcome professional and certified engineers into their homes and protect engineers by making customers aware of their responsibilities.”
Provide virtual quotes with Checkatrade’s new video calling system
Checkatrade has launched a number of new initiatives to support its trade members during the lockdown.
It has promoted a new video calling function on its website, which it says is a first within the online trade directory market, allowing tradespeople and potential clients to more easily ‘meet’, discuss jobs and obtain quotes from the comfort of their own homes. This means jobs can be safely scoped in advance or booked-in ready for when restrictions are lifted.
Checkatrade has also partnered with Claritas Tax, an accountancy firm specialising in tax advisory and compliance services, to offer trade members practical advice on accessing the financial support available at this time. The guidance, available on the Checkatrade blog, covers three main areas; help for the self-employed, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and VAT deferment.
Checkatrade is offering its members financial support and new affiliate packages for the duration of lockdown to allow them to maintain or build their online profile at a fraction of the usual cost.
Mike Fairman, CEO at Checkatrade, said: “Our members work across a broad spectrum of industries. For some it’s business as usual, for others their pipeline of work has collapsed overnight, leading to huge financial uncertainty and untold stress. We’re committed to doing all we can to support them. With our members ranging from sole traders through to limited companies, it’s important that everyone has access to the best tools and sound advice so that risks are minimised and opportunities maximised.”
Tuesday 28 April
New app promises 30-minute parts deliveries in London
A new parts delivery service for plumbing, heating and gas engineers working in the London area has been launched.
Snap-IT aims to complete orders within 30 minutes of being made, which it says will ‘save users time, money, fuel and the ever-elusive prime central London parking bay – while aiming to help reduce emissions across the board.’
Mark Maguire, Head of Sales, said: “By using your location, the app tags you to the nearest Snap-IT trade partner. Once the order is accepted, the items are picked and your rider is on their way to collect the goods.
On the occasion that a part of your order is out of stock, Snap-IT does the leg work for you, searching up to 10 stores faster than you driving to the first.
By Snap-IT having access to multiple stores and their stock, it cuts down on not only your wasted time, but additional costs that occur with these trips, such as fuel, potential parking charges/fines and wear and tear to your vehicle, all while lowering emissions in the city.”
Each item on the app comes with a picture so you can be confident you are ordering the correct part.
Mark added: “As an early adopter of the contactless courier system, Snap-IT and our trade partners have been able to meet the demand of engineers requiring parts, seven days a week, at a time when many merchants, are closed or working on restricted hours.
“All orders currently come with free masks, as well as delivery charges being scrapped.
Download the free app here or go to the App Store or Google Play.
Health and Safety at Work Day
There were 287 reported injuries from those working in electricity, gas, steam or air conditioning supply over a five-year period, a study has found.
Health and safety training provider CE Safety analysed data collected by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) between the financial years 2014/15 and 2018/19.
According to HSE statistics, the combined fields of public administration and defence, compulsory social security, education, human health and social work activities sees the highest number of non-fatal workplace injuries of all kinds, with 20,961 reported.
The industry with the second highest number of injuries is manufacturing. This field sees 12,151 injuries reported.
The construction industry saw 4,872 injuries reported between 14/15 and 18/19 and 2,023 from those working in ‘water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities’.
The most common injury reported was caused by a slips, trip or fall – with more than 20,000 reported over the period.
1/ Today, we're announcing a new loan scheme. A simple, quick, easy solution for those in need of smaller loans.
Businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. pic.twitter.com/aBYcUkR9sR
— Rishi Sunak #StayHomeSaveLives (@RishiSunak) April 27, 2020
Monday 27 April
F-Gas renewals and checks ‘must go on’
Mandatory checks of equipment under the F-Gas regulations must continue despite the lockdown restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the UK’s main F-Gas register REFCOM.
Refrigeration and air conditioning engineers are also being urged to renew any expiring F-Gas registrations during the lockdown so they can continue carrying out this vital work, the organisation said.
Head of REFCOM Graeme Fox said clients must be reminded of their legal obligations to let scheduled testing and checks go ahead. However, he said engineers would not be held accountable if a client refused to allow access to their site so long as they kept a record.
Friday 24 April
Become a Fernox genius
Fernox has released a new online training module focusing on water treatment for central heating systems.
Aimed at plumbing and heating professionals with varying levels of experience, the interactive course is available on the Fernox website – and provides a one-stop source for industry information and how-and-when to use the Fernox product range.
The online module covers a range of key industry topics, including why water treatment is necessary, the importance of cleaning the central heating system and why inhibiting is crucial to maintain central heating system health and efficiency.
Each section is designed to expand your knowledge of central heating system maintenance and ensure that you can effectively advise – and sell to – your customers.
Danfoss aims to help heating professionals with new digital platform
Danfoss has launched a new series of training and entertainment activities on the #InstallerLife website.
Gareth Ash, Marketing and Technical Support Manager at Danfoss, said: “Installers get free access to the latest webinar training, digital tools, apps, industry updates, competitions, YouTube videos and much more. On-site or from home. Available online 24/7.
“With our new digital training offering on installer.danfoss.co.uk, we are welcoming installers to the Home of Heating Professionals, where we want to combine learning and having fun, while making it easier for installers to connect with us at all times. Well-aware that being an installer is a demanding job, we are providing an opportunity to learn and save time on the job in a 100% digital universe with 24-hour access, particularly convenient in these unusual times.”
Installers who join automatically get a chance to win 1 of 12 Installer Life Homekits. The HomeKit contains a 55’’ Smart TV, a custom Home of the Heating Professional football table, grass carpet and a big stack of crisps and soft drinks to enjoy training and entertainment for the summer.
Plumbing and heating sector ‘losing £47m a day’
With plumbers and heating engineers operating at just one-eighth of their usual capacity during the first few weeks of lockdown according to new research, this equates to £47m lost each weekday.
About 47,000 plumbing and heating businesses have not been operating at all during lockdown thus far.
Despite having an official mandate to provide emergency services to householders, just 4 in 10 are currently responding generally to emergency call-outs. One-third of tradespeople are only offering this service to customers they have previously worked with before.
Although nearly three-quarters of businesses in this sector intend to use the Government’s Furlough (CJRS) or Self Employment Support Scheme, around half of the sector feel the financial measures do not go far enough.
- The majority of businesses are most worried about immediate sources of cashflow and being able to pay themselves and staff in the short term. Larger businesses, in particular, are worried about being paid for work already completed and this could act as a barrier when restrictions are eased.
- Two-thirds of operating businesses are concerned about getting hold of the materials and product they need for jobs.
- Many tradespeople still prefer to pick up their materials from the merchant, putting pressure on these distributors to ‘up their game’ and introduce appropriate adjustments within latest public health guidance. Only 1 in 7 said they were getting more products delivered straight to site.
- Despite putting strong measures in place, the risk of infection is a source of natural concern. 3 in 10 business owners cite potential exposure to COVID-19 already and larger businesses in particular are having to deal with staff absenteeism and the associated risks.
- Despite the economic climate being fairly optimistic going into this crisis, 4 in 10 P&H businesses are very nervous about business conditions in 6-12 months, particularly sole traders and small businesses.
Eureka! estimate that around 19,000 businesses are potentially due to ‘fall between the cracks’ and will not benefit under current aid measures at all.
The study of more than 1,100 respondents was carried out by Eureka! Research, Installer Magazine and representative bodies such as CORGI, APHC, CIPHE and HHIC.
Thursday 23 April
#tradieladies take on the Don’t Rush challenge
BCIA launches online training
The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has launched online training for its full suite of training courses.
The BCM01-06 training courses cover a wide range of topics which incorporate the latest technical information from the building controls sector which helps engineers, installers, and building owners to further their knowledge and skills within the industry.
The first online courses will be running in May and further courses will be added to the calendar over the coming weeks.
For further information, course dates and to book your course, click here to go to the training website.
Wednesday 22 April
Construction workers could be owed millions by HMRC
Research by tax refund experts, RIFT Refunds, has revealed that HMRC could be sitting on millions in unclaimed tax refunds owed to construction workers – who are either yet to claim or completely unaware they are even owed money.
RIFT’s data shows that PAYE construction workers could be failing to claim £300m a year. RIFT can backtrack these claims for the last four years, so this could see them owed a lot more.
There are an estimated 2.3m construction sector workers in the UK at present with 1,478,400 of these classed as PAYE employees.
Unlike self-employed workers who deduct travel expenses as part of their annual self-assessment tax returns, many PAYE construction operatives are required to claim these expenses back from HMRC each year.
The data shows that 31% of all PAYE construction workers who qualify are eligible to receive a refund from HMRC.
The average worker receives a refund of £934 per one year claim via RIFT and £3,735 as an average refund for a four-year claim, meaning that the total amount due to the 31% of PAYE construction workers eligible for a refund could be as high as £428,055,936.
However, with possibly just 30% being claimed each year (£128,416,781), RIFT estimates that HMRC is sitting on an eye-watering annual sum of £299,639,155 in unclaimed tax refunds owed to some 320,813 PAYE construction workers. With workers also able to backtrack claims for up to four years, HMRC could be sitting on even more in rightfully owed tax.
Panasonic launches interactive CPD courses
Panasonic has introduced a series of interactive, online accredited CIBSE CPD courses to enhance skills during these unprecedented times.
The CPD courses have been developed by Panasonic and support learning in a variety of heating and cooling disciplines.
There are four courses running during April and May, lasting around one hour and free to enter – but you do have to sign up in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 23 April – Principles of Air Conditioning – an overview of Splits/VRF Technology
- 29 April – Overview of F-Gas and R32 Regulations
- 30 April – Gas-fired Heat Pump (GHP) Technology
- 4 May- An introduction to Air to Water Technology
Tuesday 21 April
— Polypipe Trade (@PolypipeTrade) April 21, 2020
Monday 20 April
OFTEC supports food bank charity with PPE donation
OFTEC has donated 1,000 items of personal protective equipment to help support a food bank charity during the coronavirus outbreak.
The disposable gloves have been given to Ipswich-based Families in Need (FIND) which delivers thousands of parcels each year to people in crisis and has seen demand for its services soar during the pandemic.
Malcolm Farrow, Head of Communications at OFTEC added: “The gloves have been donated from OFTEC’s online shop stock as the site has been temporarily closed due to the current situation.
“Without FIND, many local adults and children would go hungry so we wanted to do our small yet worthwhile bit to help ensure the charity can continue to carry out its vital work safely.”
Viessmann converts production facilities to battle coronavirus
Viessmann has converted part of its production facilities in Germany to manufacture its own ventilators, mobile intensive care units, respiratory protective face masks and hand sanitiser.
Production lines of the German family business normally reserved for heating and cooling products have been transformed within days to make completely new products, while engineers have collaborated with clinicians and regulators to fast-track new medical equipment and employees have brainstormed and rolled out virus-beating innovations such as handless door-openers.
Viessmann has designed and developed a new modular intensive care unit, which could make a fundamental contribution to the care of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, building on expertise within its refrigeration solutions division, which manufactures cold rooms for a range of commercial applications.
Thanks to the prefabricated and modular design, the portable units, for either one or two patients, can be set up quickly, both indoors, in exhibition halls or sports arenas, for example, and outdoors where there is appropriate cover.
One of the production lines that normally makes wall-mounted gas boilers is now making a Viessmann-designed ventilator. The design of the Viessmann boiler, which includes electronic gas and air connections, lent itself perfectly to the development of a simplified ventilator in a very short space of time.
The compact ventilators are mobile, working both as a standalone solution with an oxygen cylinder, which means they do not necessarily need the technical infrastructure of a hospital, or, connected to a hospital’s own oxygen supply. The ventilators enable individual adjustment of pressure levels and breathing rate and allow a variable admixture of oxygen.
Viessmann has also created and manufactured disinfectant and high quality respiratory protective face masks, which are being donated to hospitals and care facilities in the vicinity of its Allendorf headquarters in Germany.
Also resulting from Viessmann’s employee idea scheme, which receives a nationally-leading 150,000 suggestions per year, is the ‘personal door opener’. This is a simple but effective personal tool that allows employees to open doors while avoiding touching door handles with their hands. These are being produced on 3D printers in the Viessmann prototype manufacturing facility.
Friday 17 April
The UK's coronavirus lockdown will remain in place for at least another three weeks, with the government outlining the conditions for easing restrictions https://t.co/3wGQNOdi06
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) April 17, 2020
Ventilation industry has ‘crucial role to play’ in the coronavirus pandemic
An air cleaning expert believes that the ventilation industry will be vital in helping the country tackle airborne diseases like COVID-19.
Radic8’s Richard Greenwood told a BESA webinar that wearing masks and washing hands will help control the spread, but are not enough on their own and need to be supported by air purification and sterilisation devices.
“We know the virus is airborne and the distance it travels depends completely on the air flow,” said Mr Greenwood.
“We need to combine ventilation strategies with plug-and-play clean air technologies to get on top of the threat. Airflow direction is key as we need to pull the air away from patients and those treating them.”
Thursday 16 April
Heating usage up 15% in UK
A new study from tado° has found that Brits used 15% more heating last month than they did in March 2019.
With an average outdoor temperature difference of just 1°C, the weather played an insignificant role.
The difference is largely down to the big rise in homes being occupied throughout the day due to the coronavirus lockdown.
An average UK annual dual fuel heating bill comes in at approximately £1,200 with heating and hot water accounting for around three-quarters of an average energy bill.
Wednesday 15 April
Worcester Bosch repurposes factory floor to help support fight against coronavirus
In light of the current crisis, Worcester Bosch has adapted its Clay Cross manufacturing facility to begin producing casings for ventilators.
This follows the announcement of Worcester Bosch’s production of scrubs from its large-scale printing capabilities. The company will also be using its 3D printers to produce ‘ear guards’ for NHS workers’ face masks.
Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, commented: “We are proud to be supporting the fight against coronavirus in any way we can and hope that our contribution will help hospitals and those in need during these turbulent times.”
RWC continues to operate and supply plumbing professionals globally so that we can continue to ensure healthcare professionals have access to basic hygiene, sanitation facilities and safe drinking water. We're with you all the way. 🚰 https://t.co/92Cow0rsDc
— RWC Global (@RWCglobal) April 14, 2020
APHC warns of Legionella risk when establishments reopen
The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) believes there could potentially be an additional serious public health concern once the current COVID-19 restrictions are removed.
The current lockdown means that the plumbing systems of many establishments aren’t being used.
CEO John Thompson explained: “With restaurants, pubs, sports facilities, bed & breakfasts, hotels, hairdressers and many other leisure establishments being closed for nearly four weeks now, we feel there is an urgent need to raise awareness of the potential spread of Legionnaires’ disease once these establishments re-open as action needs to be taken now to stop a possible outbreak.”
If these redundant systems are not being correctly maintained, which APHC believes could be the case for many establishments, they can relatively quickly become the ideal environment for Legionella bacteria to grow, as Legionella bacteria multiply in stagnant water, poorly designed water systems and in water with temperatures between 20C and 45C.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. Most people catch Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling the bacteria from water droplets dispersed through taps and showers.
Although Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal it is also treatable. However, to complicate matters, the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to the symptoms associated with COVID-19 – high temperature, feverishness and chills, coughing, muscle pains, headache and diarrhoea with the potential to lead to pneumonia.
Hounsfield Boilers donate oil boiler to training centre
Hounsfield Boilers has donated a 12/19 Kitchen Model oil boiler to Norwich Gas, Electrical and Oil (NGEO).
Tom Brown, the Lead Oil Trainer at NGEO said: “We were delighted to get our hands on a Hounsfield Boiler. The boiler is very efficient with a range of flue options.
“It includes a fire valve and filters, and the bottom water-way allows the heat exchanger to be smaller making the boiler a compact and innovative design. It’s ideal for our students to learn how to properly install and service a wide range of boilers and know how to fit the best.”
Chris Bealey, Director of NGEO, added: “We need a wide variety of boilers to train students on, as they will come across many different makes and models in their work life. The Hounsfield boiler we have is used to enable students to practise carrying out a full service.
“The trainees have to problem solve the issue and dismantle the boiler and reassemble it.
“The burner is removed and serviced whilst students also have to appraise the boiler to see if it has been installed correctly and if the flue position is correct.”
The centre has been training and assessing heating professionals and apprentices since 2000. The company is the hub for OFTEC’s ‘Competent Person Scheme’ and ‘Experienced Worker’ training and assessment and has around 500 students pass through its doors every year.
Boiler Guide compiles online training
Boiler Guide has produced a content hub full of free training resources for existing and aspiring plumbers and heating engineers that are currently not working or are self isolating.
As well as guides that focus on trade-specific skills, the hub includes a range of free resources designed for those who want to develop their business skills including accountancy and digital marketing courses.
Tuesday 14 April
Two-thirds of home improvement professionals and manufacturers abused
The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) has shared initial results from its COVID 19 Home Improvement Industry Impact Survey.
Findings from the first week of the survey showed two-thirds of home improvement professionals and supply chain manufacturers have received abuse from the public – either online or face-to-face – for staying open to complete essential works while adhering to social distancing.
Half of the survey entrants believe ‘opportunism’ by rogue traders who are neglecting social distancing and targeting vulnerable households is a significant risk.
RA Tech releases launch pack for new hotun detect
And now for something completely different!#ProductLaunch
To apply for your #hotun detect Product Launch Pack
Please go to https://t.co/xtNv0v4e7w, click on the button & fill out the form
More details will be being published but you can get it there first! 👍 pic.twitter.com/Mc8qLil8bE
— The hotun tundish solution (@RAtechUKLtd) April 11, 2020
Thursday 9 April
Gas Safe Register shares coronavirus advice
The Gas Safe Register has a guidance page on its website which will be updated throughout the current coronavirus situation.
This includes information on gas engineering businesses, engineers, tenants and landlords and more.
It said: “During this initial period of restriction, Gas Safe Register anticipates we will only conduct inspections undertaken by GSR Inspectors into high risk scenarios, and that these will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the HSE. All other inspections will be held and prioritised to be scheduled once the restrictions are lifted.”
D.E.P.H.E.R CIC offers help to low-income families and NHS workers
D.E.P.H.E.R CIC is expanding the list of services offered throughout the coronavirus outbreak to low-income families and NHS workers.
The Lancashire-based company will continue to provide heating and plumbing services to elderly and disabled members of the community, who are particularly vulnerable right now due to COVID-19,
Founder James Anderson and his employees are also putting together and distributing food parcels to those who are unable to leave their homes. A previous crowdfunding campaign has been updated in order to raise an additional £30,000 to help those during the pandemic, with a target goal of £50,000.
Wednesday 8 April
PLUMBERS NEEDED ‼️ NHS #NightingaleHospital Birmingham‼️ are urgently recruiting plumbers to get this life saving project completed. If you're free for an immediate start or know any plumbers who would like to help, please call Graham Varley 07774859289 or Mark Howell 07717306809
— City Plumbing UK (@CityPlumbingUK) April 7, 2020
Independent merchants website
A new website allows installers to order parts from independent plumbing and heating merchants that have closed due to COVID-19.
The Independent Merchant COVID-19 Support Website has been set up by boiler parts manufacturer HRP Trade and asks installers to enter the postcode of their local merchant as they order. Merchants then get 10% commission for every order placed using their postcode.
Wolseley stocks up on heating spares
Wolseley has increased the availability of heating spares to support installers as they complete essential repairs and maintenance during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Demand for heating spares has remained high throughout lockdown. As a result, Wolseley has made a stock of more than 600,000 individual heating spare parts available for same-day collection from branches nationwide. A further 300,000 items are available for next day collection.
A series of free online wellbeing workshops are being held for anyone working in construction.
The 45-minute sessions start on Thursday 16 April and will cover mindfulness, meditation, resilience, controlling stress and building a work/life balance.
The workshops are a the result of a new collaboration between the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and software firm Construction Industry Solutions (COINS).
Tuesday 7 April
OFTEC extends registrations
OFTEC is extending all current business and technician registrations for two months, free of charge. The move is part of the trade association’s support for its 9,000 registrants during the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses paying monthly by direct debit will also be given a two-month payment holiday covering May and June.
The package of support measures applies to all those who maintain their registration and will be reviewed, and potentially extended, depending on the length of time the UK remains in lockdown.
More information at oftec.org
Polypipe launches new UFH system
Polypipe has launched a new underfloor heating system – Overlay Plus. The manufacturer says it is eight times lighter than standard gypsum board and can be cut easily with a Stanley knife.
The new system can be used on new-builds, refurbishments or extensions, and tiles can be fitted directly on top of the Overlay Plus boards.
Monday 6 April
Free boiler repairs for NHS workers
📣 FREE OF CHARGE repairs for our brave #NHS workers!
The last thing you need is a cold house & no hot water – we will repair your Baxi boiler or cylinder for FREE until 30.06.*
Call our dedicated phoneline: 0330 678 0165
Share & R/T pic.twitter.com/Re6Cfmfn7V
— baxiboilers (@baxiboilers) April 6, 2020
Don’t forget mental health
Employers should prepare for a likely surge in mental health problems during the current lockdown, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).
41% of those surveyed by BESA said their mental health was worse than normal as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. With lockdown restrictions only in their early stages, BESA is concerned long periods of enforced isolation could lead to a serious mental health epidemic.
“We need to treat mental health with the same seriousness as physical health,” said Emily Pearson, managing director of the mental health in the workplace organisation Our Minds Work.
The Mental Health Foundation has put together some advice for taking care of your wellbeing during this time.
Friday 3 April
PPE for the NHS
B&Q and Screwfix have donated over £300,000 of PPE to the NHS, with more to follow.
Owner Kingfisher is working closely with the NHS to donate these supplies to the hospitals and key workers where they are most needed.
Masks, goggles and visors have gone to many large hospitals across London. And five trucks containing protective eyewear and masks worth over £200,000 are heading to the NHS’s Emergency logistics hub in the Midlands today.
B&Q stores have also been donating a range of other items, from paint to plants, where they are urgently needed by community organisations including hospices and care homes.
A plumbing lecturer from Barking & Dagenham College has been finding new ways to teach his classes remotely.
Matthew Smith has been resourceful by using his own house as the plumbing workshop, filming himself doing various tasks.
Minimum Wage increase
Increases to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage have gone ahead as planned. This is despite the current COVID-19 situation.
• The National Living Wage went up on Wednesday (1 April) from £8.21 to the new rate of £8.72
• The National Minimum Wage for 21 to 24-year-olds is now £8.20. For those aged 18-20 it’s now £6.45 and for 16 and 17-year-olds it’s £4.55.
• The Apprentice Rate has gone up from £3.90 to £4.15.
End point assessments paused
BESA has suspended the delivery of End Point Assessments (EPA) for apprentices during the Coronvirus pandemic.
EPAs include a practical assessment of the apprentice’s work, which is not realistic during the current lockdown and with social distancing rules in place. BESA had requested that an alternative to the practical element be considered, but this was deemed not possible by the awarding bodies, Open Awards and IfATE (Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Training).
Thursday 2 April
Plumbers to the rescue
The IPG says its members – plumbers, heating and bathroom specialists around the UK – have been adapting to lockdown and continuing to help their communities.
• Paton of Walton, in Walton on Thames, got an emergency part to a family in isolation whose heating system had broken.
• WMI Simpsons of Barnet has set up a gazebo in front of the store so it can serve customers without them entering the store. And even members of the public are being given trade prices.
• Gill’s Plumbing and Heating, in Welwyn Garden City, has closed its showroom. But its trade counter remains open and it is delivering to customers’ doorsteps.
There’s more information and advice for businesses on the IPG website. And HIP has lots more about the plumbing industry’s reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Arlington launches new Thermagal division
Arlington has launched a new division serving the plumbing and installation industries. Thermagal will provide high quality thermostatic mixing elements, thermal actuators and electrothermal actuators.
Mark Franckel, Arlington Industries Group CEO, said: “We’re delighted to launch Thermagal to the heating and sanitary market. Thermagal will manufacture thermostatic elements that are smarter, cleaner, safer and lighter. We can’t wait to deliver to our customers – both established and new.”
Mira launches Elite SE in Ireland
Mira Showers has launched what it says is Ireland’s first silent dual outlet pumped electric shower.
The Mira Elite SE was shown to members of the APHCI (Association of Plumbers and Heating Contractors Ireland).
Darren Stretch, Product Manager at Mira Showers, said: “Providing a convenient showering solution for low pressure gravity systems, the Elite SE and Elite SE Dual solves the issue of poor flow for those people with these systems fitted in their homes.”