Newsflush issue 8: August 2018

New fee structure now in place

The new fee structure for all plumbing and drainage audit inspections booked in the NSW Fair Trading area of operations (Greater Sydney Metro, Wollongong/Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Newcastle/Hunter) is now in place.

Information on how the new audit inspection fee structure will apply, including scenarios, can be downloaded from the NSW Fair Trading website.

Sewer service diagram requirements

When performing residential, commercial or industrial sewer drainage work in New South Wales; plumbers and drainers are required to submit a Sewer Service Diagram (SSD) to the regulator and provide a copy to the property owner (or the owners agent) at the completion of drainage work.

NSW Fair Trading and delegated local councils have noted a decrease in the general quality of SSD’s being submitted and are reminding licensees that this is a legal requirement. To assist licensees in the preparation of sewer service diagrams, the following guides are available to download on the NSW Fair Trading website:

The quick reference guide can be used as a handy on-site tool to address SSD requirements. There are also a range of SSD templates available for download on the NSW Fair Trading website.

NSW Fair Trading plumbing and drainage inspection requirements

There are multiple plumbing regulators in NSW. Plumbers and drainers working in NSW must contact the relevant regulator in the area they are working for enquiries, to submit documentation, book inspections and pay inspection fees. A list of regulators and their functions is outlined in the Local plumbing regulators in NSW document (PDF, 292.75 KB).

The information below applies to the Fair Trading area of operations, within the Greater Sydney Metro, Wollongong/Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Newcastle/Hunter areas.

It is important that licensed tradespeople undertaking certain plumbing and drainage work are aware that an audit inspection is required to be booked within a prescribed period, as described in the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011, section 13 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2017, clause 7 , and must be booked at critical points of plumbing and drainage work. If the property is connected to a recycled/alternative water system, additional audit inspection bookings are required.

Final audit inspections

If your work is selected for an inspection, a Fair Trading inspector will arrive on site at the time booked. You must:

  • meet the inspector on-site or ensure a technically qualified representative is present (this does not apply for an unattended final audit inspection)
  • make sure the Notice of Work (NoW) has been supplied
  • have all work uncovered and under test (where required) at the time of the audit inspection
  • provide all relevant documents (where required) at the time of the audit inspection eg. Sewer Service Diagram (SSD) and Certificate of Compliance (CoC).
    Unattended final inspections  (subject to conditions)

Plumbers can choose not to be onsite for final audit inspections. All paperwork must be submitted to Fair Trading at least 2 business days prior to booking the inspection. The plumber must notify Fair Trading of the day the work will be completed and ready for the final inspection. Fair Trading can then carry out an inspection at any time that day, during business hours. Unattended inspections are not available if the installation has recycled water or an alternative water supply.

Work not complete at the time of inspection

If the work has not been completed at the time of the audit inspection due to site conditions, scheduling or the like, a partial audit inspection can be made by informing administration staff at the time of booking the audit inspection. The audit inspection report will be noted as partial and a separate audit inspection for the balance of that audit inspection type will need to be booked.

If the work is not expected to be completed at the appointed audit inspection time, you should call Fair Trading before the inspection and advise that a partial inspection is needed. If Fair Trading is not advised beforehand, the field inspector will start compliance action resulting in a written direction being issued to the licensee.

Types of non-compliance

When work does not comply with the Plumbing Code of Australia or relevant Australian Standard, NSW Fair Trading plumbing inspectors have 2 options when issuing notices of non-compliance to a licensee.

A caution can be issued for minor issues that can be fixed on the spot and within the time it takes for the audit inspection to be completed. A written direction will be issued for more complex issues that cannot be fixed immediately, and the licensee will receive a formal written direction with a copy being sent to the customer.

Note: It is mandatory that all non-compliances needing re-inspection are attended by an inspector. All notices will be kept on your record.

Penalty Infringement Notices

Penalty Infringement Notices (PIN) can be issued by Fair Trading if plumbers and drainers do not follow the written direction or commit other offences under the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 and/or the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2017.

Payment of the PIN does not exclude the responsible person from fixing the work, and further action can be taken if the work is not rectified. Revenue NSW administers the PIN once it has been issued.

Reminder - changes to the written direction notice (non-compliance) process

Fair Trading is implementing a new process for issuing written directions for compliance matters under the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011. This applies to all plumbing and drainage work within the areas of NSW that are directly regulated by Fair Trading. The process assists licensees to respond quickly to non-compliances so that work can be rectified in a timely and efficient manner.

Key features:

  • written directions will be sent to licensees via the email address registered in MyInspections
  • licensees will be provided with the standard 21 calendar days to rectify all non-compliances
  • licensees can request alterations to a non-compliance notice (e.g. extend the rectification date, ask for the notice to be revoked) by writing to PIAS Technical at piastechnical@finance.nsw.gov.au. Time extensions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

With this move to electronic communication, if you undertake work within an area where Fair Trading is the local inspection authority, you must keep your details up to date in the MyInspection system. It is important to regularly check your email for correspondence from Fair Trading.

If a non-compliance notice is not complied with, Fair Trading will take appropriate enforcement action against the licensee. Such action could include formal education, a face-to-face interview, the issuing of a penalty infringement notice (PIN) or placing conditions on trader’s licence.

New Australian Standard - AS/NZ3500:2018 Plumbing and Drainage

Standards Australia recently updated AS/NZS3500 series in line with the three-yearly review cycle of the National Construction Code (NCC) to reflect progress in science and technology within the plumbing and drainage industry. The new Standard will be adopted on 1 May 2019, aligning with the release of the 2019 Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), providing the industry with technical direction, enabling compliance with the PCA, and the regulatory framework in NSW.

All Standards are periodically reviewed and updated to reflect the adoption of new materials and methods of installation. It is important you (as the responsible person) ensure that any work you undertake complies with the current Standard, which may include any amendments published since the Standard was initially purchased.

Referenced Australian Standards are amended or updated by Standards Australia and published by SAI Global. To purchase AS/NZS3500:2018, or look up any other relevant Standard in the online catalogue, visit the SAI Global website.

Do the Standards apply for work NOT considered onsite plumbing and drainage work under the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 (the Act)?

Yes the Standards apply for all types of plumbing and drainage work, including work that under the Act is not defined as on-site plumbing and drainage work. Under the Act, on-site plumbing and drainage work does not include:

  1. the construction of, or work on, stormwater pipes
  2. the construction of, or work on, fire suppression systems
  3. roof plumbing work (being work declared by the regulations under the Home Building Act 1989 to be roof plumbing work)
  4. the construction of, or work on, network utility operator (NUO), local council or county council water or stormwater mains, sewers or sewerage systems.

Further to the above:

  • any work described from 1) to 3) above is regulated by an appointed certifier (council or a private certifier) under other legislation
  • any person responsible for work described from 1) to 3) above is required to hold an appropriate licence
  • construction or work on NUO, local council or county council water, stormwater, sewers or sewerage systems, as per 4) above, can only be carried out by a person approved by the NUO, council or county council.

New Fair Trading website

The new NSW Fair Trading website launched on Tuesday 10 July. The new website is more user friendly, easier to navigate and has been optimised for mobile and tablet view. Google translate has been embedded into the website, so information can be instantly translated into more than 100 languages. Check out the new website!

Have your say on changes to empower consumers and small businesses

The NSW Government has opened public consultation on a range of possible reforms that are designed to empower consumers and small businesses in NSW by facilitating easy and transparent trading. The proposals are focused on driving efficient markets, supporting economic growth and creating opportunities for innovation.

Some of the possible changes include:

  • introducing a choice of 1, 3 or 5 year licences for builders and other licence holders
  • removing 13 categories of home building licenses
  • progressing Automatic Mutual Recognition to remove barriers to the movement of licensed workers in and out of NSW
  • creating a separate restricted licence category for LP gas and electrical articles in caravans and other recreational vehicles
  • increasing the threshold for owner-builder permits to $20,000
  • creating a central data portal on traders and licensees.

Visit the Have your say section of our website for more information and to make a submission. The deadline for submissions is 27 August 2018.

Searching for SafeWork licences is now easier

The NSW Government has published a register of individuals who hold asbestos, high risk work and demolition licences as well as holders of general construction induction training cards (white cards). The register includes the following information:

  • licence holder’s name
  • licence number and type
  • the licence status, the licence expiry date (if any)
  • licence conditions
  • prosecution summaries and information about penalty notices issued by SafeWork NSW (only penalty notices issued after 1 July 2018 will be published).

The register provides greater protection for workers, consumers and the community by making it easier to check the above information.

Takata airbag recall

The Takata airbag recall is the largest vehicle recall in history. The airbags are in 60 makes of cars sold in Australia, including many utility vehicles used for work purposes. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) have issued a compulsory recall on all affected vehicles. The compulsory recall requires suppliers of vehicles with defective Takata airbags to replace all defective Takata airbags. Some vehicles will be recalled immediately, and others on a rolling basis, scheduled based on various factors including relative safety risk. This means that not all vehicles will be recalled straight away.

Defective airbags may deploy with too much force, causing sharp metal fragments to shoot out and hit vehicle occupants, potentially injuring or killing them. As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure that the vehicles your employees are driving are safe. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has launched a website that lets you search via a rego number. It only takes a minute to check and it could save a life.