New confidential reporting system gives inspectors the evidence they need
There is strong anecdotal evidence that illegal plumbing work is happening more often. In recent months, there have been numerous alarming reports about sub-standard work by unlicensed people.
The Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Association of WA is responding with an initiative called Report Illegal Plumbing (RIP), which has been created with the collaboration of the plumbing industry.
RIP, which is predominantly aimed at licensed plumbers but is available to members of the public too, provides a downloadable form for submitting detailed evidence of illegal/unlicensed/unsafe plumbing work. The information provided will be collected by the MPGA and sent to plumbing inspectors who will follow it up. If the work is found to be at fault, the intention is to get the work rectified and/or commence legal action that may result in prosecution.
One of the main drivers for RIP is that it allows tip-offs to be provided to inspectors without publicly identifying the complainant – something the MPGA knows is particularly important in smaller communities where a lot of people fear that reporting illegal work may have repercussions.
Although RIP requires complainants to provide their contact details, it is important to note that personal information remains confidential. Only authorised representatives of the MPGA will have access to complainant details to enable them to make contact in the event that further information is required or to report the outcome of a complaint and any subsequent investigation.
RIP relies on solid evidence, so the more information provided the better. For example, inspectors will need a full description of the work including photographs if possible, the name and address of the person who did the work and the name of the property’s owner or occupier.
In WA, the only people who can legally perform plumbing work are licensed plumbing contractors, licensed tradespeople, restricted permit holders and apprentices working under the supervision of licensed plumbing contractors. There are also some authorised workers in remote communities.
The primary reason is that unsatisfactory plumbing work can lead to health and safety risks for thjose in the area where it occurred and the wider public.
There is also a significant financial risk. That applies to rectification work that may be costly, as well as repairs to property that may result fromproblmes of poor workmanship. Added to that, insurance companies are highly unlikely to pay out on claims involving illegal or unlicensed plumbing work.
To access the RIP reporting form, see the Report Illegal Plumbing page.