The NSW government is preparing to implement a new licensing system for mechanical services in October 2022. The changes were prompted by the need for medical gases licensing, but also include provisions that impact mechanical services workers across refrigeration, air conditioning and plumbing.
The Building Amendment (Mechanical Services and Medical Gas Work) Bill 2020 amends the Home Building Act 1989 to provide for the licensing of contractors, and the certifying of supervisors and tradespersons who carry out mechanical services work including medical gas systems work. The new licence will be administered by NSW Fair Trading.
The Bill was introduced in response to two incidents in Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital in 2016. Medical gases were incorrectly piped in one of the operating theatres, leading to two babies being administered nitrous oxide instead of oxygen. One of the babies, Amelia Khan, was left with severe brain damage. The other baby, John Ghanem, died.
As well as regulating work on medical gas systems, the Bill also covers mechanical services in general. This includes the construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration, maintenance, testing or commissioning of a mechanical heating, cooling or ventilation system in a building, which is associated with the heating, cooling or ventilation of that building.
The new system will sit alongside the existing air conditioning and refrigeration licensing regime.
Although the Bill was passed in 2020, the implementation has been postponed twice, and industry awareness of the new licence remains low.
It is understood that industry groups are liaising with the NSW government to support the implementation of the new licensing system by clarifying the scope of the licences, the qualifications required for each class of licence, and the timetable for implementation.
For more information on medical gas and mechanical services licensing in NSW, click here.
Feature image of NSW Parliament House courtesy of Michael Coghlan at flickr