The Queensland Government has passed new plumbing and gas fitting laws which includes the creation of a new licence requirement for mechanical services to address the dangers posed by incorrectly installed medical gas systems, as well as legionella in commercial air-conditioning systems in large office buildings or hospitals.
Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni, said the laws governing the plumbing and gasfitting trade – the ‘Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002’ – had been amended by more than 30 separate Bills during the past 15 years, making it hard to work with.
“This caused it to grow in size and complexity to the point that if a plumber wants to check on the technical requirements for a particular job, they have to look at the Act, and the Regulations, and the codes, making it hard for plumbers to just get on and do their job.”
In 2016, parents across Australia were horrified at the tragedy that occurred in a Sydney hospital, when a baby died and another was left with brain damage, due to a medical gas fitting that was connected incorrectly. Mr de Brenni said that the new occupational licence requirement ensures these types of installations can only be performed by individuals who are suitably qualified to perform them, so hopefully something like that won’t ever happen again.
The new Plumbing and Drainage Act was designed to deliver a streamlined and flexible legislative framework for plumbing and drainage that is clear and simple for the end user.
“Last year, after three years of collaborative effort with industry and community stakeholders, we committed to revitalising decade-old plumbing laws and replacing them with a modern, stronger and user-friendly legislative framework,” Mr de Brenni announced.
Queensland Plumbers Union State Secretary, Gary O’Halloran, said the new licence class will be fundamental to quality plumbing all across Queensland and will ensure safety to the Queensland public.
The new legislation introduces tougher penalties for plumbers and gasfitters who endanger the health and safety of Queenslanders. For those rogue operators that don’t follow the new guidelines, repeat offenders now face fines of close to $46,000 or 12 months in jail if they perform work that is likely to put peoples’ lives at risk.
The building and construction industry has largely welcomed the announcement.
The Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ) Executive Director Penny Cornah said plumbers and gas fitters across Queensland are very supportive of these new reforms that will make work associated with medical gas licensed work.
“These new laws will ensure Queensland is a safer place,” Ms Cornah said.
The full ‘Plumbing and Drainage Bill 2018’ can be found here.