Hospital issues highlight need for regulatory reform

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Master Plumbers & Gasfitters Association CEO Murray Thomas says the most recent announcement by the State Government that 1200 brass fittings need replacing amplifies the urgency for a thorough review of the regulatory framework and the introduction of legislation to better control product supply.

According to media reports, the fittings do not comply with Australia’s WaterMark Certification Scheme.

“The WaterMark Scheme sets out the standards for plumbing fittings quite clearly, particularly with regards to products used for potable water supply,” Mr Thomas said.

“But while the scheme is implemented and administrated nationally, enforcement is the responsibility of state-based authorities that in many cases do not have the resources to ensure it is adhered to.”

Mr Thomas said current legislation placed the onus entirely on plumbers who connected fittings to water supplies to ensure those products complied with WaterMark standards.

“The big issue is that there is no legislation preventing the import, wholesale or retail of non-compliant products and that is a fundamental flaw that poses a significant and widespread risk to public health and safety.

“What is urgently required is legislation to ensure the responsibility occurs at every level of the supply chain. We should not have products landing on our shores or being stocked on retailers’ shelves that are non-compliant with clearly defined WaterMark standards.”

Mr Thomas said the MPGA and other industry associations had for many years been urging the Building Commission, which oversees the Plumbers Licensing Board, to conduct a thorough regulatory review and implement appropriate changes in the interest of public health. But the former State Government had remained unreceptive.

“The good news is that in recent meetings with Health Minister Roger Cook’s office and with Commerce Minister Bill Johnston, both indicated their support of a regulatory review.

“If there’s a silver lining to the ongoing delays and excessive cost blowouts with the PCH project, it’s that these shortcomings in legislation are now very apparent and we have the support of the State Government to ensure long term solutions are put in place.”

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