Monthly Archives: August 2011

Recent find by plumber puts the spotlight on regulations on working alone

It's essential to have the right PPE when working alone

A plumber from Darlington found a grenade while he was working in the loft of a derelict house. He  was fortunate that the device turned out to be a training aid – and not the real thing. It pays to take care when working alone.

There are no absolute restrictions on working alone but under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 employers have a duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees while they are at work.

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999: Regulation 3 states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of –

  • the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed while they are at work; and
  • the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking

Although there is no general legal prohibition on working alone, the broad duties of the HSW Act and MHSW Regulations still apply. These require identifying hazards of the work, assessing the risks involved, and putting measures in place to avoid or control the risks.

Control measures may include instruction, training, supervision, protective equipment and so on. Employers should take steps to check that control measures are used and review the risk assessment from time to time to ensure it is still adequate.

Lone workers shouldn’t be at more risk than other employees. This may require extra risk-control measures. Precautions should take account of normal work and foreseeable emergencies, eg fire, equipment failure, illness and accidents. Employers should identify situations where people work alone and ask questions such as:

  • Does the workplace present a special risk to the lone worker?
  • Is there a safe way in and a way out for one person? Can any temporary access equipment which is necessary, such as portable ladders or trestles, be safely handled by one person?
  • Can all the plant, substances and goods involved in the work be safely handled by one person? Consider whether the work involves lifting objects too large for one person or whether more than one person is needed to operate essential controls for the safe running of equipment.
  • Is there a risk of violence?
  • Are women especially at risk if they work alone?
  • Are young workers especially at risk if they work alone?
  • Is the person medically fit and suitable to work alone?
  • What happens if the person becomes ill, has an accident or there is an emergency?

The list does not include assessing the probability of finding a grenade!


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The vital work of plumbing

In the UK – and the rest of the Western world – we take the availability of fresh, clean, water in our taps as a fact of life. As we do the removal of dirty water and sewage. We don’t give much thought to the small army of men and women who make it happen – unless it goes wrong (at which point we call Drain Doctor).

In many parts of the world, though, water and sewage services are at best basic and sometimes non-existent.

This video about a plumber in Kenya caught our eye. The work that he is doing is transforming the lives of local people.

It serves to remind us how the work of plumbers is vital to life and how lucky we are in the UK to have the water and sewage services that we do.


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New boss for Drain Doctor in Portugal aims to build business

Mike Sampson has been appointed manager of Drain Doctor in Portugal

Mike Sampson has been appointed the new manager to take charge of Drain Doctor’s operation in the Algarve,Portugal.

Mike  is an expatriate Briton who has been living and working in Portugal for four years. He originally emigrated to the country to take up a job building TV and film sets – having built a successful business in  the UK doing similar work – but the contract he had been offered  in Portugal fell through. Since then he has been undertaking a variety of short-term projects.

In his new post with Drain Doctor he plans to expand the business to help prove that the company’s success in the UK can be replicated inPortugal.

The company-owned operation based in Alvor is demonstrating the concept of Drain Doctor’s guaranteed 24 hours per day 365 days per year service with a fixed price ‘menu’ and no call-out or out-of-hours charges. It currently covers Loulé, Faro, Silves, Vilamoura, Portimão and Lagos in the Algarve region. Once the business is fully established, Drain Doctor will start franchising the system in the rest of Portugal.

Mike Sampson said: “There is tremendous potential for Drain Doctor inPortugal. We can really shake up the market with a guaranteed fast-response plumbing and drainage service.

“I am really looking forward to building a highly successful business based on the model that has proved so successful in the UK.”

Launched in January 2009 with an official opening attended by local and international VIPs, company directors and staff, the Drain Doctor operation in the Algarve has already created a great deal of interest.

Drain Doctor director Jan Mitman said: “The newspapers are full of reports on the problems of the Portuguese economy but here, as elsewhere in the world, the Drain Doctor business can be virtually recession-proof if correctly promoted and delivered.

“People will always need emergency plumbing and drainage assistance and will turn to a company that can supply a professional service with guaranteed standards and fixed prices. What’s more, Drain Doctor is the only company in the Algarve currently carrying out no-dig relining solutions and working with the insurance companies.”

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It’s all go for Middlesbrough Drain Doctor team

James Stairmand (left) receiving a Target Achievers Award from Drain Doctor chairman Freddie Mitman at a recent Drain Doctor Convention.

James Stairmand and his dedicated  team in Middlesbrough have been extremely busy working on commercial contracts recently.

They have recently completed a large site investigation at a local steel company, followed by a complete site clean that involved the removal of tarmac and other materials from 530 road gullies. The gully clearance is part of a large commercial contract for facilities management work at the Wynyard Business Park north of Billingham.

In addition, the team is working on a contract recently awarded to them by the local authority which included sorting out the drains at a wash-down bay at a local council depot.

Completing the work, along with the usual day-today emergency plumbing work, in just four working days was in large part due to the dedication of technician Lee Horner who was also moving house at the time.

James said: “All credit to Lee for helping us to complete these contracts. Local knowledge is important. It is important to approach new and existing businesses and offer Drain Doctor’s services.

“If I am driving past a business and notice that the car park is flooded, for example, I will call in and point it out to them and leave a card. It’s all about being proactive. As long as you keep your name at the forefront of people’s minds the work will come.

“We have also added some plant to our fleet to enable the business to better manage larger commercial work.”

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Drain Doctor’s got talent

The Shakespeare memorial in London's Leicester Square. Could the next statue to be erected in the square be of a plumber-turned-playwright?

We all know that Drain Doctor has talented technicians.

This story about a Soho plumber who wrote a play that is now being performed in London’s West End got us thinking though. Are there any Drain Doctor technicians or franchisees out there who have hidden talents?

Has anyone achieved a long held ambition? Let us know and we will publish  your story on the blog. Who knows, you might make the local paper, or even the nationals.

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Toilet without water

It is not likely to put plumbers out of business – but Microsoft founder Bill Gates is putting up cash to help invent a toilet that works without water.

The  “Reinvent the Toilet” competition financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $3 million to researchers at eight universities to find ways of using new technology to create toilets that need not be connected to sewers, or to water and electricity lines, and that are cheap to use. A later stage of the competition will provide money for one or more of the winning prototypes to be produced commercially.

It may all sound a bit silly but even in the developed world the cost of providing sewage treatment is considerable and in many parts of the world the absence of proper sewage systems is a major threat to health.

We wish the inventors luck with their work – but we don’t think it is likely to reduce Drain Doctor’s workload in dealing with blocked drains anytime soon.

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Drain Doctor price check to beat rogue traders

Drain Doctor prices its jobs before work starts according to a national pricing menu.

According to this story in The Telegraph about a pensioner who was charged £14,000 for unblocking his drain, rogue traders are still giving the emergency plumbing industry a bad name.

Drain Doctor is keen to dispel that image. That’s why the UK’s largest emergency plumbing and drainage repair company is reassuring its customers that it is maintaining its price check policy, even over bank holiday weekends.

No overtime is charged for evening, weekend or bank holiday emergencies and there are no call-out charges. Every job is priced and agreed with the customer before work starts, working to a national pricing menu.

We are truly on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Service requests are handled quickly and efficiently and prices are agreed before the job is done, so there are no surprises. Our constant aim is to give superb and specialised service.

Drain Doctor customers can rest assured that if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a plumbing emergency over the coming August Bank Holiday weekend, Drain Doctor will not charge any more than at any other time of year.

Franchisees offer a full 24 hour per day seven day per week service with no call out charges and they give fixed-price, no obligation quotes with a full guarantee on all their work.

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