Plumbers Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board April 2012 update

Issue 38 – May 2012

Public consultation update

During March and April 2012, the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) consulted on the following matters.

  • Consultation on the review of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as a requirement for licensing.
  • Consultation on the competencies for the plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying trades.
  • Consultation on the review of the minimum requirements for the registration of overseas-trained tradespeople.

The PGDB thanks all those who took the opportunity to make a submission. The PGDB was pleased with the level of public response, receiving 145 submissions on its CPD review, 106 on its consultation on competencies, and 101 on its review of the minimum requirements for the registration of overseas-trained tradespeople.

The PGDB will consider the submissions and make decisions on its proposals at its meeting on 15 May 2012.

Have you relicensed for the 2012/13 year?

April 1 2012 marked the start of the new licensing year for plumbers and gasfitters. It's easy to relicense online or by post or email.

→ Renew online: Visit the PGDB website, www.pgdb.co.nz/Trade/Plumbing/Licensing.html) click on 'renew your licence online', and enter your authorisation number and password. The online relicensing guide steps you through the process to activate your 2012/13 licence. If you've forgotten your password, the PGDB can resupply it on request by email.

→ Renew by post or email: Download the form online(www.pgdb.co.nz/Trade/Plumbing/Licensing.html) or contact the PGDB on 0800 743 262 or licensing@pgdb.co.nz to request a form by post. Then return your completed application to PGDB, PO Box 10655, Wellington 6143 or licensing@pgdb.co.nz.

New policies for supervision and provisional licences

A new Supervision policy and a new provisional licence policy were approved by the PGDB on 27 March 2012 and came into force on 1 April 2012.

New Supervision policy

The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006 and the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (Plumbing Registration and Licensing) Notice 2010 provide the legal requirements for supervision. The Supervision policy sets out the PGDB's practice when assessing supervision arrangements against those legal requirements. The policy is applied appropriately and not inflexibly, having regard to the circumstances and merits of the particular supervision arrangements.

Important reminder to all supervisors

Supervisors are expected to advise the Board if, and when, they cease or commence supervising an individual tradesperson. Supervisors should also remember that it's important they relicense on time so that their supervisees aren't prevented from uplifting their authorisation for the 2012/13 year.

→ View the Supervision policy (www.pgdb.co.nz/About_us/Our_policies.html#supervision) on the PGDB's website.

New provisional licence policy

The PGDB will apply the provisional licence policy when considering whether to issue an overseas-qualified practitioner with a provisional licence to carry out restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting, or drainlaying in New Zealand.

→ View the provisional licence policy(www.pgdb.co.nz/About_us/Our_policies.html#supervision) on the PGDB's website.

Recent prosecution

On 21 March, Andre Nieuwoudt was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court. Nieuwoudt was fined $1,800 for carrying out sanitary plumbing and drainlaying when he was not authorised to do so.

Important information for gasfitters

Understanding appliance minimum/maximum inlet pressures

Based on information provided by Energy Safety, it appears that some gasfitters may be confused about the application of the pressure required by regulation 71 of the Gas (Safety and Measurement) Regulations 2010. Regulation 71(1)(c) requires appliances to be marked with 'the gas supply pressure range within which the gas appliance will operate safely'.

In most cases there will be a maximum and minimum pressure. However, some appliances only have one pressure on the badge plate. If that is the case, it is imperative that gasfitters regard this as the only safe gas supply pressure to the appliance. It may be necessary to install a regulator upstream of the appliance to ensure this is the pressure supplied to the appliance. The only exception is to this should be if the appliance supplier provides written advice on 'the gas supply pressure range within which the gas appliance will operate safely' that is specific to the make and model of appliance supplied.

It is important that gasfitters follow the instructions provided on the appliance badge plate or installation manual. Failure to meet these instructions may lead to a potentially dangerous situation occurring such as over gassing.

The importance of safety lock out tags

The PGDB encourages all gasfitters to place warning notices such as 'lock out tags' on unsafe equipment or installations.

If you cannot take immediate action to repair an unsafe installation, it's vital that you isolate the installation and place a warning 'lock out tag' on the equipment itself, or on the isolation valves to the equipment, to ensure potential users do not unwittingly use the unsafe equipment.

It's not enough to simply issue a verbal warning to an owner, a 'lock out tag' must be placed on all unsafe equipment.

The tag should include (on the reverse side) a description of the fault, the date, the name of the person issuing the notice and their contact information.

You can create your own tag or purchase tags from Protector Safety (ref 189818S) or NZ Safety (ref 189818S).

Remember, if you decommission an installation, ensure you place a lock out tag on the supply valve or in a prominent position on the installation and ensure you purge and seal all pipework before leaving the site unattended (NZS 5261: Part 1).

Should anyone remove the tag or put the appliance back into use this should be reported immediately to Energy Safety on 0508 377 463.

Related Standards

Update on government review of gas certification

The PGDB's 2011 review of certification of gas and electrical installation work includes feedback from the 2011 purple certification surveys from Energy Safety and the Department of Building and Housing (DBH). Here, the PGDB provides an update on their progress on the outcome of that review.

The review recognised that certification by the person who did the work helps to ensure safety outcomes. It also serves a number of other functions for installers, consumers, and regulators. For example, it identifies who is responsible for the work, and provides assurance that the work is lawful and is safe to connect for the purposes of supply.

Energy Safety and DBH are formulating draft regulations to implement Cabinet decisions aimed at strengthening certification.

Certification review at a glance

At a glance the key points of the certification review are as follows:

  • review determined that certification is not 'broken', but could be improved
  • safety outcomes remain the same: the safe use and supply of gas and electricity
  • industry consultation will ensure government 'gets it right'
  • changes will come into effect on 1 April 2013 for gas certification
  • the fee for a certificate will be removed when the changes come into effect.

Certification information and format

The proposed changes to certification are designed to make the process more robust and to recognise different levels of risk for different installation work.

Under the improved regime, certification information required to be recorded on the certificate will be prescribed in regulation, for example, the location of the work, name of the person who did the work, and their registration number.

The format of a 'certificate' can vary. For example information could be provided on a paper form or be included on an invoice. The flexibility this provides should enable certification to be integrated into an individual's or a company's business systems in a way that suits them.

Certificate forms that meet regulatory requirements may be produced by industry groups, by companies, or by individuals. The forms can include items such as company logos and contact information in addition to the required information. The regulated fee for the current certificate will be removed when the gas certification changes come into effect on 1 April 2013.

Gasfitting update

The new regime requires self-certification for all installation work. This may be integrated into the final certification by the supervising certifying gasfitter, when required. The PGDB has consulted with industry experts to help classify types of gasfitting according to risk. The PGDB has identified the elements necessary to ensure certification meets its objectives, and how the elements of certification and levels of risk can be brought together. All responses and feedback are helping the PGDB to develop the draft regulations.

Energy Safety and DBH determined there should be three levels of risk for gasfitting certification. The 'high risk' and the 'low risk' levels are fairly straightforward to set. An intermediate level of risk would cover work that is riskier than the low-risk work, but for which the high-risk category is too intensive.

Significant features of the new regime

The significant features of the new regime are to:

  • extend certification to all gasfitting (remove exemptions)
  • treat installations connected to 15kg or less LPG cylinders the same as other gas cylinders
  • designate work that is currently exempt (except for 15kg or less LPG installations) as 'low-risk' gasfitting
  • require 'certification' by each person for work they have done
  • certify installation design through a simple declaration, and recognise manufacturer's instructions when applicable
  • extend final certification to include connection for supply and the tests and commissioning required as part of the connection process
  • implement an online Register of High-risk Gas Installation Work for recording 'high-risk' work, as defined in the regulations
  • remove the $25 + GST fee for purchase of the certificate from 1 April 2013.

What's next?

As agreed by Cabinet, Energy Safety, and DBH will provide a consultation draft of the proposed amendments to the gas regulations and the electricity regulations to selected industry experts to verify the technical wording of the amendments.

The PGDB proposes to submit draft regulations to Cabinet in June 2012. Regulations will be Gazetted as soon as possible after approval, and are proposed to come into force on 1 April 2013 for gasfitting, and on 1 July 2013 for PEW.

The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board and the Electrical Workers Registration Board will notify gasfitters and electrical workers of any impact the certification changes may have on their responsibilities and the way they work.

Prepare for 2013

To prepare for 2012, you should:

  • keep up-to-date with regulatory developments, especially the 2012 Gazetted regulations (when available). Subscribe to Energy Safety's 'Business update' newsletter
  • review your business and administrative systems for giving certification information to customers
  • think about developing the certification information format that best suits your business and your customers
  • remember to show your authorisation card to customers.

→ You can keep up-to-date with certification changes in Energy Safety's free electronic newsletter 'Business update'. Email info@energysafety.govt.nz to request a subscription.

Summarised from the PGDB's 'Info Brief', April 2012.

Published in building.