COVID-19: Inspect Safe

Recommendations for Inspectors to reduce the risk of the spread of Coronavirus

Phase one opening – Ontario

As of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, the phase one opening of businesses will go into effect. Residential Home Inspections will be catered for in two new sections of the Ontario “Essential Workplaces” regulations.

These sections are:

  • Indoor and Outdoor household services”
    “Private households could now employ workers on or about the premises in activities primarily concerned with the operation of the household”. As selling and buying are considered part of the operation of the home, we believe this new clause opens the door for Residential Home Inspections.
  • “Maintenance”
    “General maintenance and repair services can resume, and are no longer limited to ‘strictly necessary’ maintenance”. As a Home Inspection can be utilized by a Home Owner or Renter for Maintenance purposes, this also opens the door to Residential Home Inspections.

This adds to the circumstances where a qualified Home Inspector could provide services. Existing circumstances were before this latest change limited, in Ontario, to:

  • Providing an inspection directly for a Real Estate Agent or Broker (where they sign the agreement, pay for the inspection and recieve the inspection report)
  • Providing a mould, asbestos or eadon inspection outside of a Home Inspection
  • Providing a septic or well inspection outside of a Home Inspection
  • Providing a Property Inspector as part of a professional service to a Law firm, Lender or Insurance Company

Risks still Exist!

The opening of businesses does not mean the risk has reduced. As of the publication of this post, there have been 21,494 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. This means 99.85% of the population of Ontario HAS NOT been infected.

We believe this is, in part, due to the restrictions put in place.

It is easy to see, without a vaccine, irresponsible action, at this time, could lead to a much bigger, much worse second wave of infections and death.

Precautions while inspecting: Protect yourselves

Each Inspector should use the proper precautions and advice to clients and Realtors when performing inspections , these include administrative precautions such as:

Contracts

Ensure you have wording in your contract to protect you against unforeseen situations.

We have provided these clause for members on the web portal at this location: https://www.ontarioachi.ca/contract_clauses

Information

Ensure you are aware of the potential condition of the property and people you may come into contact, with respect to COVID-19

We have provided a questionnaire for you to send to your clients for this https://www.ontarioachi.ca/covid-19-questionnaire

Reports

It is imperative that you report, in detail, of any component(s)/area(s) you are unable to inspect due to concerns of COVID-19, and the reason for your concerns (e.g. “Could not inspect Bedroom number x because it was inhabited with someone who is self-isolating“. If a problem is found with any of those components or areas after the fact, this will help protect you from legal action

Wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment

With all PPE, they only protect you if they are put-on, worn and taken-off properly. Understanding how the coronavirus spreads will help in understanding the relevant PPE to use.

The Coronavirus is suspended in water droplets that are exhaled as someone who is infected breaths, talks, coughs or sneezes. Depending upon the exhalation process and the size of the droplets the virus can be suspended in the air for a long period of time and travel for extended distances. While normal talking and breathing would allow viruses to travel around 2 metres, a cough can eject droplets up to 4 metres and a sneeze can send them to 7-8 metres.

The virus enters the body through mucus membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) and openings (cuts and sores).  Protecting your mouth, nose and eyes is paramount.

The 2-metre separation does not come close to protecting anyone from an unrestricted sneeze. Here we can see a sneeze travelling 4 times that distance.
This is why everyone should wear a mask of some sort.
3M N-95 Disposable Surgical respirator
3M N-95 disposable surgical respirator
protects inbound and outbound spread

3M N-95 disposable surgical mask
protects inbound and outbound spread

Moldex N-95 disposable respirator
protects inbound and outbound spread

3M N-95 disposable surgical respirator with valve
protects inbound spread only
Multi-layer surgical face cover
Multi-layer surgical face cover
protects outbound spread only
3M half-face N95 respirator with cartridges
3M half-face N95 respirator with cartridges
protects inbound spread only
3M half-face P100 respirator with filters
3M half-face P100 respirator with filters
protects inbound spread only
North full-face P100 respirator with cartridges
North full-face P100 respirator with cartridges
protects inbound spread only
Wrap-around safety glasses
Wrap-around safety glasses
protects inbound eye spread
Face shield for use with disposable masks
Face shield for use with disposable masks
protects inbound splatter and some outbound splatter

Gloves are a matter of choice and procedure. While they provide you with a level of protection from contact with your skin, they can also lead to a false sense of security. You should not touch your face with your gloved hands.

Latex dispoable gloves
Latex gloves – one use
chance of allergic reaction
Nitrile disposable gloves
Nitrile gloves – can be washed
Come in Blue or Purple
Vinyl gloves
Vinyl gloves – food quality
Not very robust – not recommended

The actual process of removing the gloves, if not performed correctly can transmit any contacted virus to your hands. You should ALWAYS wash your hands before putting gloves on and after taking them off.

Unless you have broken skin or a cut, some experts suggest that washing and disinfecting bare hands can provide equally good or even better protection.

There is also a concern that long-term wear of latex gloves can lead to allergies. Latex-free gloves should be sought and disposable plastic gloves (food handling quality) are not sufficient for the purposes of Home Inspections.

If you are going to wear gloves it appears that Nitrile gloves may provide the better option. Check for holes and tears when you first don them.