Investigations into outstanding notices, fees and certificates
The Building Commission on behalf of the Plumbers Licensing Board (the Board) recently undertook an investigation into compliance with the self-certification of plumbing work. An analysis of the number of notices and certificates submitted in 2013 was undertaken and this identified that 64 per cent of licensed plumbing contractors did not submit any of the required paperwork. The investigation initially focused on contractors who were actively advertising for plumbing work and found 95 per cent of contractors to be non-compliant in relation to submitting notices, fees and certifications.
A sample of 20 contractors who have been investigated during the initial phase of the investigation were found to have been non-compliant. The table below sets out the details of notices, fees and certifications that had not been submitted based on the plumber’s records of plumbing work undertaken over the past six years.
Table 1: Outstanding notices, fees and certificates
|Notices of Intention
|Certificates of Compliance
|Fee No. of instances
Further investigation phases
The Building Commission intends to systematically investigate the remaining contractors to determine why no notices, fees or certificates were submitted in 2013. Contractors who are endeavouring to comply with their obligations will be supported. Enforcement options for dealing with non-compliance include infringement notices, prosecutions and in some cases, disciplinary action which may result in the cancellation of a licence. Contractors are encouraged to immediately review work they have undertaken to ensure they have submitted the requisite notices, new installation fees and certificates.
Notices and certificates
All major plumbing work, except emergency work, will require the lodgement of a Notice of Intention (NOI) to the Board at least 24 hours prior to any work being undertaken. A licensed plumbing contractor must not carry out or permit or arrange for major plumbing work to be carried out unless a NOI for the work has been lodged with the Board. This system communicates to the Board where plumbing work is about to be undertaken so that it can be inspected as part of the Board’s compliance monitoring activities.
When major plumbing work is completed, the contractor who lodged the NOI for the work, must within five working days of completing the work:
- Give the Board a Certificate of Compliance (COC) for the work
- Give a copy of the COC to the owner or occupier of the place where the work was carried out; an
- Give a copy of the COC to the local government authority of the district in which the work was carried out if the work is drainage plumbing and the drainage plumbing is not, and is not intended to be, connected to a sewer.
A COC can only be lodged by the contractor to which it is registered and it must be filled out in its entirety. A contractor who gives a COC must keep a copy of the COC at his or her principal place of business for at least six years.
All minor plumbing work carried out must be certified on a Multi-Entry Certificate (MEC). A MEC will record up to 25 individual jobs and will need to be lodged with the Board within five working days after the end of each calendar month. A MEC will only be able to be lodged by the contractor to which it is registered and it must be filled out in its entirety. Partially filled or unreadable certificates will not be accepted.
The scheme established to monitor the plumbing industry in Western Australia is funded via a combination of occupational licence fees, the purchase of forms required for submission of NOIs, COCs and MECs and the payment of new installation fees on plumbing work for a new building or extension that includes at least one new fixture. The new installation fees have been revised as at 1 July 2014 and are available on the Building Commission’s website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission. The forms may also be purchased through accessing the order form on the Building Commission’s website.
The Enforcement Branch of the Building Commission draws upon the Department of Commerce Compliance Strategy Model and its Prosecution and Enforcement Policy when determining a suitable enforcement action when it discovers non-compliance. Enforcement options include a formal warning, issue of an infringement notice(s), prosecution and disciplinary action.
A failure to submit a NOI carries a fine of $3,000 or a modified penalty of $300 when an infringement notice is issued. A failure to submit a COC carries a fine of $5,000 or a modified penalty of $500 when an infringement notice is issued. A failure to submit a MEC carries a fine of $2,000 or a modified penalty of $200 when an infringement notice is issued. A failure to comply with the notices, fees and certifications could result in disciplinary action, including cancellation of licence.