PLUMBERS AND GASFITTERS

May 15, 2012

Mrs ARMITAGE asked a question of the Leader of Government Business in the Legislative Council -


With regard to requirements for plumbers and gasfitters -


(1) What are the different licence types available for plumbers and gasfitters?


(2) What is the difference between a contractor licence and a practitioner licence?


(3) How many licence/registration cards must plumbers and gasfitters now carry?


(4) In view of the possibility of fraudulent activity with display of licence numbers, why are plumbers and gasfitters now required to display licence numbers on vehicle signage, all advertising and correspondence relating to their business?


(5) Why is it necessary for nine staff in the Occupational Licensing Unit within Workplace Standards to continue to administer the registration and licensing of plumbers and gasfitters when the previous Plumbers and Gasfitters Registration Board undertook similar tasks with a staff of two?

 

Mr FARRELL replied -


(1) Plumbers and gasfitters are licensed under the Occupational Licensing Act 2005 and there are separate plumbing and gasfitting regulations under the act.


Plumbers:

 

There are a number of licence classes in the plumbing occupation and licence classes are issued to persons who have the requisite qualifications in these classes.
A Plumber Practitioner licence will allow an individual to work independently under the direction of a Plumber Practitioner (Certifier) of the same class, but does not allow the licence holder to certify work, issue certificates of compliance or to contract out their work.


A Plumber Practitioner (Certifier) is an advanced plumber who has undertaken additional training beyond the apprenticeship graduate qualification at the certificate 3 level. This licence allows for an individual to work independently and to certify their work, including the work of a plumber practitioner and to issue certificates of plumbing compliance. These licence holders cannot contract for work unless they also hold a contractor licence.
Licence classes issued for both the Plumber Practitioner and Plumber Practitioner (Certifier) licences are sanitary plumbing, water plumbing, drainage, roof plumbing and mechanical services plumbing.


Endorsements can be added to a Plumber Practitioner (Certifier) licence only, which will allow an individual to undertake a broader scope of work. These endorsements are:
water plumbing - endorsed 'heated water temperature control'


· water plumbing - endorsed 'backflow prevention'
· mechanical services plumbing - endorsed 'refrigerated air conditioning'
· mechanical services plumbing - endorsed 'split systems up to and including 18 kWr
· mechanical services plumbing - endorsed 'medical gas'


Plumber Practitioner (Provisional) licences are issued to allow persons to complete the required formal gap training that is outside an apprenticeship or formal training agreement. These licences will apply primarily to persons who come to Tasmania with overseas plumbing qualifications. Provisional licences are issued for a 12-month period only.


A Plumber Practitioner (Certifier Restricted) licence is a licence issued to an allied tradesperson, such as a refrigeration mechanic or electrician, to allow for restricted mechanical services plumbing work relevant to the allied trade occupation. Restricted licences include:


· mechanical services plumbing - restricted to refrigerated air conditioning
· mechanical services plumbing - restricted to split systems up to and including 18 kWr
· mechanical services plumbing - restricted to medical gas
A Plumbing Contractor licence is issued to a business such as a sole trader, partnership or corporation who enters into a contract or contracts to carry out prescribed plumbing work.


Gasfitters:


A qualified gasfitter is issued a practitioner certifier licence in a class according to the practitioner's qualifications and competencies. The classes refer to natural gas - NG - and liquefied petroleum gas - LPG.


· Gasfitter Practitioner (Certifier) - NG
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Certifier) - LPG


Endorsements can be added to gasfitter - NG and LPG - licences for compressed natural gas - CNG - in boats and caravans.


· Gas Installations/Storage Systems - Boats and Caravans - CNG
· Gas Installations/Storage Systems - Boats and Caravans - LPG


Licences are also issued to allow gasfitters to perform work on Type B gas appliances. A Type B gas appliance has a gas consumption rating in excess of 10 megajoules an hour and includes any components and fittings of an appliance that are downstream from, and including, the appliance's manual shut-off valve. Examples of this equipment are industrial motors, boilers, steam boilers, spray bake ovens and furnaces.


· Gasfitter Practitioner (Restricted) - Type B Standard Level 1
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Certifier) - Type B Standard Level 2
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Certifier) - Type B Standard Level 3


Provisional licences are issued to persons who need to undertake some form of gap training outside an apprenticeship or formal training agreement to qualify for a full certifier licence. These licences will usually apply to overseas-trained gasfitters and can only be issued for a period of 12 months.


· Gasfitter Practitioner (Provisional) - NG
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Provisional) - LPG
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Provisional) - Type B Standard Level 1
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Provisional) - Type B Standard Level 2
· Gasfitter Practitioner (Provisional) - Type B Standard Level 3


A Gasfitter Contractor licence is issued to a business such as a sole trader, partnership or corporation who is entering into a contract or contracts to carry out prescribed gasfitting work.


(2) What is the difference between a contractor licence and a practitioner licence?
A practitioner means a person who is the holder of a licence under the Occupational Licensing Act 2005 authorising him or her to carry out prescribed work relevant to that licence. This will be the electrician, the plumber or the gasfitter who is performing the actual work. A practitioner cannot contract under this licence.


A contractor means the holder of a contractor's licence under the Occupational Licensing Act who:


(a) enters into a contract to carry out any prescribed work;
(b) employs another person to carry out any prescribed work; or
(c) has the management or control of any other person carrying out any prescribed work.


(3) How many licence/registration cards must plumbers and gasfitters now carry?


A plumber practitioner will hold one practitioner licence identity card under the Occupational Licensing Act. Practitioners may hold more than one licence occupation and licence class under the act and these licence occupations and classes will be reflected on the one licence identity card.


A contractor under the act will hold one contractor licence identity card. If the contractor is contracting in more than one occupation then this is reflected on the one licence identity card. Where a contractor is also a practitioner they will hold two licence identity cards.


(4) In view of the possibility of fraudulent activity with display of licence numbers, why are plumbers and gasfitters now required to display licence numbers on vehicle signage, all advertising and correspondence relating to their business?


Section 100 of the Occupational Licensing Act states:


A contractor must show his or her licence number in any advertisement in respect of the business conducted under the contractor's licence and in any account or correspondence issued by the contractor in respect of that business.


The reason behind asking contractors to include their licence number in advertisements is to provide the community with an awareness of lawfully licensed contractors.


Workplace Standards receive a number of complaints of persons or businesses advertising without a licence number. Many advertisements are those of unqualified and unlicensed persons. Providing a licence number helps to better inform the public on whether or not to engage the person or the business mentioned in advertising. It also provides added public awareness to who is legitimate and who might not be.
The requirement to include a licence number in advertising is an additional deterrent to those falsely claiming to be contractors.


The public is now able to search licence holder details on the Workplace Standards website to verify if persons or businesses are current licence holders.
Practitioners do not contract and will therefore not advertise.


(5) Why is it necessary for nine staff in the occupational licensing unit within Workplace Standards to continue to administer the registration and licensing of plumbers and gasfitters when the previous Plumbers and Gasfitters Registration Board undertook similar tasks with a staff of two?


The Plumbers and Gasfitters Registration Board, along with the board secretary and a part-time employee administered the Plumbers and Gasfitters Registration Act 1951. The systems and processes of the board were well overdue to be brought into line with good practices in the area of occupational licensing.


The board did not have the capacity to investigate or act on complaints relating to unlicensed persons, poor work practices or conduct issues. The Occupational Licensing Unit provides for consumer protection through complaints management and will investigate and take action relating to conduct and unlawful practices across the licensed occupations.


What the Occupational Licensing Act does is to bring together under the one act and one administration body the licensing of the electrical, plumbing, gasfitting, auto-gasfitting occupations and any other high-risk trade occupation the government might like to see licensed in the future. For example, the refrigeration and air-conditioning occupation could be considered as a licensable occupation.


There is more rigour around a licensing system than there is under a registration system. Licensing is not simply about approving and issuing of licences. Licence holders have duties and obligations to meet under the act.


For example, contractors are to ensure that any prescribed work carried out under their licence is done so by appropriately licensed and competent persons and that the work complies with relevant standards and codes of practice and is in accordance with permit or authority requirements.


Staff in the occupational licensing unit are actively providing assistance to persons and businesses to meet their obligations under the act.


To effectively administer the act and to work towards a national licensing system, staff will be carrying out duties in the following key areas:


· management and administration functions;
· investigation activities;
· compliance enforcement;
· education and training;
· contractor auditing; and
· Tasmania's ongoing contributions and involvement toward the National Occupational Licensing System - NOLS.

 

 

 

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