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Gasfitting work

Gas has such a high potential risk associated with its distribution and use that governments regulate to control the standard of the product and to ensure the safe application of gas. There are minimum standards of safe work practices, safe installation and maintenance methods, that components and appliances and energy installations and suppliers meet for satisfactory safety and technical outcomes for the community.

Standards are:

  • a means by which regulatory outcomes can be satisfied. For example, the regulations may say as an outcome that safety must be achieved and the standards then develop and define what is safe in the particular context and how it may be achieved - the regulations say gas appliances must be safe and the standards say that one element of safety is that the appliance does not produce more than a specified safe level of carbon monoxide (CO).
  • industry based with broad stakeholder input, so they represent the industry practice that is followed to deliver the regulatory requirements.
  • not a substitute for regulations. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) highlights the importance of not passing regulatory powers to standards writers.
  • not a restriction to international trade. Wherever possible standards should be international and not contain local requirements at a cost to the community and make it harder to sell overseas.
  • not an inhibition on innovation. Standards should set an outcome and not prescribe the solution. While prescription gives regulatory certainty it is not flexible or able to accommodate technological development.

For gas, some standards are mandatory - they have the force of law. However, most standards are advisory, based on good industry practice that the community expects.

EnergySafety has a direct involvement in the major standards and through membership of key committees of Standards Australia International (SAI) has input to all standards.

The Australian Gas Association (AGA) has produced most of the gas standards which until recently were known as codes. The AGA is now an accredited standards writer for SAI and is in the process of converting the codes to Australian Standards.

Installation standards

The mandatory requirements are:

  • AS 5601 "Gas installations" - the principal standard
  • AS 3814 "Industrial and commercial gas-fired appliances"
  • AS/NZS 1596 "Storage and handling of LP Gas"
  • AS/NZS 1425 "LP Gas for fuel systems for vehicle engines"
  • AS/NZS 2739 "Natural gas (CNG) fuel systems for vehicle engines"
  • AG 901 "Code of practice for NGV refuelling stations"
  • AS 1697 "Installation and maintenance of steel pipe systems for gas"
  • AS 2885.1 "Pipelines - Gas and liquid petroleum - Design and construction"
  • AS 2885.2 "Pipelines - Gas and liquid petroleum - Welding"

Appliances

All gas appliances have to be approved prior to sale or hire. Type A appliances are defined and listed in the Gas Standards (Gasfitting and Consumer' gas Installations) Regulations 1999 and are typically domestic or commercial catering appliances. Type A appliances are generally approved by the Director by recognising the Australian Gas Association certification scheme. This scheme in turn requires approval by an independent competent laboratory to the relevant AG100 series standard. These standards are based on international codes and develop the international essential safety requirements into measurable attributes. They do not prescribe how to build an appliance.

The remaining gas appliances that are greater than 10 MJ and not a Type A appliance nor an mobile engine are Type B appliances. Type B appliances require specific approval for installation and use. Refer to the Gas Standards (Gasfitting and Consumer' gas Installations) Regulations 1999 for further details. Type B appliances must comply with AS 3814 "Industrial and commercial gas-fired appliances".

Supply

The Gas Standards (Gas Supply and System Safety) Regulations 2000 mandate the following standards:

  • AS/NZS 1596 "The storage and handling of LP Gas"
  • AS 1697 "Installation and maintenance of steel pipe systems for gas"
  • AS 2885.1 "Pipelines - Gas and liquid petroleum - Design and construction"
  • AS 2885.2 "Pipelines - Gas and liquid petroleum - Welding"
  • AS 2885.3 "Pipelines - Gas and liquid petroleum - Operation and maintenance"
  • AS/NZS 2430.3.1 "Classification of hazardous areas - Examples of area classification - General"
  • AS/NZS 2430.3.4 "Classification of hazardous areas - Examples of area classification - Flammable gases"
  • AS 3723 "Installation and maintenance of plastic pipe systems for gas"
  • AG 603 "Gas distribution code"

Quality of supply

The Gas Standards (Gas Supply and System Safety) Regulations 2000 Part 2 specify the standards for Natural Gas and LP Gas. The metering accuracy for tariff customers of plus/minus 2% and the prescribed minimum pressure to be supplied to a customer are also specified in these regulations.

Competency standards

Gas fitters are required to be licensed in Western Australian and part of the licensing requirements include the relevant competencies to undertake the type of gasfitting work covered by the licence. A draft set of competencies for gas fitters have been proposed by EnergySafety to the national regulatory co-ordinating committee, the Gas Technical Regulators Committee (GTRC).