Publication of the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement: Reforms to Plumbing Regulation in Western Australia (DRIS) on 27 November 2019 signals the completion of Building and Energy’s extensive review of Western Australia’s plumbing laws.
The next stage in the reform process is the implementation of the decisions contained in the DRIS. This page will be regularly updated to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed of the implementation progress and are able to provide feedback.
The DRIS is the final stage of an extensive review of Western Australia’s plumbing laws which began in 2014 with the release of a report commissioned from independent consultants, ACIL Allen Consulting (ACIL Allen) – see ‘Archives’ tab.
The ACIL Allen report contained 51 recommendations for reform, ranging from relatively simple amendments, to complex legislative reforms requiring not only a fundamental re-shaping of the approach to regulating plumbing and plumbing work in Western Australia but also a detailed assessment of the potential impacts.
A staged approach to the reform process was adopted and over the course of the period from 2014 to 2017 many of ACIL Allen’s recommendations were implemented via amendments to the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 – see ‘Implemented reforms’ tab.
On 1 May 2018, proposals relating to the implementation of the remainder of the ACIL Allen recommendations – together with a number of matters that had arisen since the publication of the ACIL Allen report, were released in the form of a Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement for a three-month period of consultation – see ‘Archives’ tab.
Over 1,000 written submissions were received, all of which have been taken into account in preparing the DRIS.
The DRIS contains 20 decisions for change as well as three decisions to retain the status quo. To guide the implementation process, these decisions have been amalgamated into 13 reform areas, as per the below.
- Plumbing regulation funding.
- Governance arrangements.
- Definition of plumbing work.
- Testing and maintaining plumbing safety devices.
- Minor plumbing repairs by and on behalf of private homeowners.
- Modular plumbing installations.
- Regulation plumbing designers and plumbing design verifiers.
- Scope of a restricted plumbing permit.
- Transition from apprentice to tradesperson.
- Advertising to perform plumbing work.
- Supervision and general direction and control by Licensed Plumbing Contractors.
- Penalties and prosecution limits.
- Compliance notification for ‘minor plumbing work’.
Please see the ‘Further information’ tab for more detail on each of the reforms including a description of each reform, contact details to request further information and details about possible information sessions.
Reform area 1. Plumbing regulation funding.
Relates to DRIS Decision 1
The current model for funding the compliance and enforcement activities of the plumbing technical regulator will be replaced once the development of a suitable alternative funding source has been finalised.
Reform area 2. Governance arrangements.
Relates to DRIS Decisions 2
The Plumbers Licensing Board (PLB) will continue to administer the plumbers licensing scheme. However, the PLB’s role as the technical regulator will cease and pass instead to the Building Commissioner supported by staff from the Building and Energy Division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
Membership of the PLB will also be reformed to align more closely with the skill set required for a licensing administrator.
Reform area 3. Definition of plumbing work
Relates to DRIS Decisions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 23
The overarching definition of “plumbing work” in the Plumbers Licensing Act 1995 will be broadened to apply to any work prescribed in the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 as the design, construction, testing, installation, alteration, extension, replacement, repair or maintenance of pipes, fixtures, fittings, devices or apparatus used or intended to be used to convey water, wastewater and other wastes.
The definition of water supply plumbing, sanitary plumbing and drainage plumbing will be refined, with water supply plumbing to also include non-metered drinking water (e.g. drinking water from rainwater tanks and bores) and non-drinking water services (e.g. recycled water).
A number of other reforms are proposed to provide greater clarity about the definition of plumbing work, including around the definition of minor plumbing work and residential reticulation work.
Reform area 4. Testing and maintaining plumbing safety devices.
Relates to DRIS Decision 8
The scope of the Plumbers Licensing Act 1995 will be broadened to require owners/persons with control of high-risk facilities to put systems in place to ensure that plumbing safety devices such as backflow prevention devices and thermostatic mixing valves are inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards and manufacturers’ instructions.
Reform area 5. Minor plumbing repairs by private homeowners.
Relates to DRIS Decision 10
Private homeowners may carry out the following plumbing tasks in their own homes without a plumbing licence:
- Repairing or replacing a shower head,
- Repairing a tap or tap mixer valve but not a thermostatically controlled tap,
- Replacing an inlet or outlet washer in a toilet cistern,
- Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge, and
- Clearing a blocked waste pipe by the use of a plunger.
Reform area 6. Modular plumbing installations.
Relates to DRIS Decision 11
Pre-fabricated plumbing modules with integral plumbing will be able to be installed in a plumbing installation as either:
- a WaterMark certified product in accordance with the WaterMark certification scheme; or
- the integral plumbing may be constructed by or under the direction and control of a WA licensed plumber in accordance with the Plumbing Regulations.
Pre-fabricated plumbing modules that do not meet these requirements will not be able to be installed.
Reform area 7. Regulation plumbing designers and plumbing design verifiers.
Relates to DRIS Decision 12
The scope of the Plumbers Licensing Act 1995 will be broadened to implement requirements for the design of plumbing installations in Class 2 to 9 buildings, and for the verification of performance solutions
Reform area 8. Scope of a restricted plumbing permit.
Relates to DRIS Decision: 16
The scope of work permitted to be carried out by the holder of a restricted plumbing permit will be amended to ensure that permit holders are able to comply with the regulations when replacing a water heater.
Reform area 9. Transition from apprentice to tradesperson.
Relates to DRIS Decision: 17
The Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 will be amended to provide a two-month transition from apprentice to licensed tradesperson. This will enable newly qualified apprentices to carry out plumbing work under the general direction and control of a licensed plumbing contractor while their application for a plumbing tradesperson’s licence is being processed by the PLB.
Reform area 10. Advertising to perform plumbing work.
Relates to DRIS Decision 18
Implementation timeframe: 2020/21
The Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 are to be amended to make it an offence for people who are not Licensed Plumbing Contractors to hold themselves out to be a plumber by advertising to carry out any kind of licensed plumbing work.
Reform area 11. Supervision and general direction and control by Licensed Plumbing Contractors.
Relates to DRIS Decision 19
The Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 are to be amended to clarify the meaning of ‘general direction and control’ and to allow for fines to be imposed in cases where a licensed plumbing contractor has failed to exercise adequate direction and control.
Reform area 12. Penalties and prosecution.
Relates to DRIS Decisions 22, 23
Amendments are to be made to the maximum penalty amount and the maximum timeframe for bringing a prosecution so as to align with practices in other similar industries. The maximum penalty under the Plumbers Licensing Act 1995 will increase from $5,000 to $50,000 and the maximum allowable timeframe for bringing a prosecution will increase from one year to two.
Reform area 13. Compliance notification for ‘minor plumbing work’.
Relates to DRIS Decision 22
The requirement to submit multi-entry certificates is being replaced with the requirement that licensed plumbing contractors must maintain a record of minor plumbing work at their principal place of business.
Building and Energy will shortly begin work on developing the legislation to implement the reforms set out in the DRIS. This will be done in consultation with the relevant stakeholder groups.
If you would like further information about any of the reforms, including arranging for a DMIRS representative to attend an industry engagement, please contact the ‘Plumbing Review’ team at email@example.com.
Emergency plumbing work in remote Aboriginal communities (14 December 2016)
In December 2016, amendments were made to the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 to help improve health and living conditions in Western Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities.
The changes allow a suitably qualified environmental health worker based in or close to communities where ready access to a licensed plumber is not available to undertake a limited range of simple plumbing repairs. The repairs are designed to keep clean drinking water flowing and prevent unsanitary conditions from arising or getting worse until a licensed plumber can get there.
Plumbers Licensing Board disciplinary powers (30 April 2016)
Amendments to the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 (the Plumbing Regulations) effective from 30 April 2016 brought in a number of changes to the compliance and disciplinary arrangements for licensed plumbers and permit holders. As a result of those changes, the Plumbers Licensing Board (PLB) now has broader powers when dealing with disciplinary complaints against licensed plumbers and permit holders. In addition, plumbing compliance officers are now able to issue infringement notices in a broader range of cases. The amount of the infringement notice penalty (known as the ‘modified penalty’) has also increased in cases where notices of intention and certificates of compliance have not been submitted within the prescribed timeframes.
Plumbers licensing renewals process (30 April 2016)
A number of changes to the renewal process for plumbing licences and permits also took effect on 30 April 2016. As part of the changes, the Plumbers Licensing Board now has the power to assess whether a person applying to renew their licence or permit continues to satisfy the ‘fit and proper person’ test. Further information about the new processes is available on the licence renewal webpage.
Adoption of the Plumbing Code of Australia (1 May 2015)
On 1 May 2015, the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 (the ‘Plumbing Regulations’) were amended to call up the Plumbing Code of Australia (the PCA) as the primary technical reference for water supply plumbing, sanitary plumbing and drainage plumbing in Western Australia.
Compliance with the PCA is achieved by satisfying the Performance Requirements listed in the PCA.
Please find below links to previous documents prepared as part of the review of Western Australia’s plumbing laws.
- Consultation Regulation Impact Statement: Reform of Plumbing Regulation in Western Australia
- Review of Plumbing Regulations in WA (ACIL Allen)
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