Mechanical services licences

Mechanical services – myth busters, webinars and frequently asked questions

Mechanical Services - Myth Busters


Mechanical services – Webinar Recordings and Questions & Answers

Mechanical Services - Plumbing

Recorded: Tuesday February 18 2020 at 4:00pm

Review the Q&A from the live webinar event 

Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration

Recorded: Tuesday March 3 2020 at 4:00pm

FAQs - coming soon

Mechanical Services - Medical Gas

Recorded: Tuesday March 4 2020 at 4:00pm

Review the Q&A from the live webinar event 


Mechanical Services – Frequently Asked Questions

Background of Mechanical Services Licensing

How and why are the QBCC licensing changes being made?

On 11 September 2018, amendments to the Queensland Building & Construction Commission Act 1991 were made to establish a licensing framework for mechanical services work with amendments to commence on 1 January 2020

Part 9 of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 (PD Act) amends the QBCC Act 1991 to provide for new Mechanical Services occupational licence classes and defines mechanical services work among other things. 

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (Mechanical Services Licences) and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation 2019 (QBBC Mechanical Services Regulation) was made on 25 October 2019 and will amend the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Regulation 2018 (QBCC Regulation) to include new licence classes, amend schedule 1 and transitional arrangements for the reform. 

Licence classes are offered across three work streams. The licence classes are:

  • Mechanical services – medical gas
  • Mechanical services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (unlimited design) 
  • Mechanical services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (limited design) 
  • Mechanical services – plumbing  

The QBCC already regulates some of this work through the Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Mechanical Services Unlimited and Limited design licences and these licensees were transitioned to the newly created licence classes on 1 January 2020. These changes were instigated by the Government and the Department of Housing and Public Works and there has been extensive public and private consultation relating to this reform.

The provisions commenced on 1 January 2020 through a phased approach.There are transitional arrangements provided to assist industry with this change.

What consultation occurred regarding the introduction of the QBCC mechanical services licence classes?

The Queensland Government (through the Department of Housing and Public Works) undertook extensive consultation with industry on the introduction of mechanical services licences. In June 2019, the Queensland Government released a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) seeking public feedback on the proposed framework. The RIS sought comment on proposed scopes of work, technical qualifications and transitional arrangement for workers currently performing mechanical services work.The consultation period closed on 5 July 2019 and on 25 October 2019, the Decision RIS was released with the results of this consultation.

You can find this on the Queensland Productivity Commission website or by googling “mechanical services decision RIS”.

Why is there a need for the new QBCC mechanical services licence classes?

Mechanical services within a building can present critical safety issues to building occupants. Cooling towers in air conditioning systems have been associated with fatalities. For example:

  • Hyde Park, Sydney, 2016, 15 hospitalisations and one death from legionella;
  • Melbourne Central Park District, 2017, 6 hospitalisations from legionella; and
  • Adelaide, 2017, 3 hospitalisations from legionella.

The incorrect installation of medical gas systems can also have disastrous consequences as was tragically demonstrated at the Bankstown-Lidcombe hospital in New South Wales in June and July of 2016. One baby died and the other suffered a permanent brain injury as a result of nitrous oxide incorrectly being administered through an oxygen outlet. The intent of the new mechanical services licence classes is to protect the general community from the risk of harm associated with this type of work in high-risk buildings.

How will the new QBCC mechanical services licence classes improve the health and safety of the community and risk management?

Prior to 2020, there were no occupational licences in Queensland for mechanical services including the installation of a medical gas system.This means that unlicensed and unqualified individuals could be performing this work. The licensing framework and requirements aims that all persons who lawfully perform mechanical services work have the skills to perform the work. This work is regulated under the QBCC Act, which also provide avenues for dispute resolution and remedies for incomplete or defective work.

Why do we need, and what is the difference between, the four QBCC mechanical services licence classes?

Each of the four licence classes recognise the specialist streams of mechanical services work. The mechanical services licence classes recognise the expertise in the various fields and provides for individuals to work within these specialised areas The licence classes recognise the mechanical plumbing work involved in heating and cooling systems, and the requirements relating to medical gas and air-conditioning and refrigeration work.The two Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence classes cover small to large systems. The Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence (Unlimited Design) requires additional training and expertise to that required for the limited design licence class.

Definitions for Mechanical Services 

What is the definition of mechanical services work?

Refer to About new mechanical services licences

What doesn’t mechanical services work include?

See About new mechanical services licences. The QBBC Mechanical Services Regulation inserted the new Schedule 1A (Work that is not mechanical services work) into the QBCC Regulation. It defines work that is not included as being mechanical services work.

What is a mechanical heating or cooling system in a building?

A mechanical heating or cooling system in a building includes:

  • A valve, regulator, register, pipe, tank, heating or cooling pipe or surface, solid fuel heater, coil or other item that is used in the system
  • Includes a cooling tower, which is a device for lowering:
    • The temperature of recirculated water by bringing the water into contact with fan-forced,  or fan-induced, atmospheric air, or
    • The temperature of water, a refrigerant or other fluid in a pipe or other container by bringing recirculated water and fan-forced, or fan-induced, atmospheric air into contact with the pipe or container
  • Includes parts of a cooling tower, being a water pipe, valve, pump, automated dosing device or automated bleeding device or any other mechanical component that affects the cooling tower’s cooling water flow rate or wastewater disposal.

Does the heating or cooling systems have to be attached to a building?

Yes - the definition included in Schedule 2: Dictionary of the QBCC Act defines …”mechanical heating or cooling system in a building”.

Is it building work or mechanical services work?

The QBCC Act 1991 and QBCC Regulation 2018 define what is (and is not) building work and mechanical services work. For licensing requirements, a $3,300 limit generally applies to building work; however, a $0 limit applies to mechanical services work. Certain work in the Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence classes will not be mechanical services work but remain building work. For example, the installation of single head split systems is building work (i.e. not mechanical services work) and requires a licence if the work is valued over $3,300.

What is medical gas?

Medical gas is any gas or mixture of gases or other substance or process used for hospital or medical use that is supplied to, removed from or conducted at, a hospital or other place where medical procedures are carried out, by way of a pipeline reticulation system and includes:

  • Oxygen;
  • Helium;
  • Nitrous oxide;
  • Medical air;
  • Surgical tool gas;
  • Carbon dioxide;
  • Common mixtures of those gases;
  • Anaesthesia waste.

What does the medical gas licence cover?

The licence scope covers constructing, installing, replacing, repairing, altering, maintaining, testing or commissioning a medical gas system in a building.  Medical gas system means any fixed component used:

  • In reticulation system for the supply or removal of a medical gas from the gas source to wall outlet;and
  • For patient care, therapeutic, diagnostic purposes or surgical tools.

Commencement of Mechanical Services Licensing

When will the new QBCC licence classes commence?

The new licence classes commenced on 1 January 2020. On 1 January 2020, existing refrigeration, air-conditioning and mechanical services licensees automatically transitioned to equivalent new mechanical service licence classes.There is a two-staged approach to commencement. Note: apprentices and trainees do not need to be licensed but must be supervised.

What are the key dates for phasing in QBCC mechanical services licensing?

From 1 January 2020:

  • All businesses (contractors) and nominee supervisors need to hold a mechanical services licence. There are some exemptions for some contractors that apply until 30 June 2020.
  • Contractors and persons performing supervisory services on behalf of a company need to have a Mechanical Services – Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (limited design) or (unlimited design) licence to carry out work in the licence scope (except for building work of a value of $3,300 or less).
  • Employees finishing apprenticeships need to have an occupational licence to continue all types of mechanical services work upon completion of their apprenticeship.

From 1 July 2020:

  • Contractors and nominee supervisors need to have a Mechanical Services - Medical Gas licence.
  • Contractors and nominee supervisors need to have a Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (limited design) or (unlimited design) licence to carry out mechanical services.
  • Contractors and nominee supervisors need to have a Mechanical Services -  Plumbing licence.

Note: site supervisors do not need to gain a licence with QBCC until 1 January 2022 while working for an appropriately licensed contractor. This also applies to sub-trade contractors.

From 1 January 2022:

All companies and individuals performing mechanical services work need to hold a mechanical services licence. This includes site supervisors and occupational licences for employees.

What happens if I don’t have my QBCC mechanical services licence on 1 January 2020?

From 1 January 2020 the licensing framework applies and new entrants, including apprentices finishing a relevant apprenticeship after 31 December 2019,  must obtain the relevant licence.However, contractors already performing mechanical services work have until 1 July 2020 to obtain the licence, and employees (including site supervisors) already undertaking mechanical services work, and who are employed by an appropriately licensed contractor, have until 1 January 2022 to obtain their licence.

If I send in my QBCC licence application, can I start working as I have a receipt for payment of my application fee?

Only if it is not mandatory to hold that QBCC licence at the time of application e.g. a mechanical services employee applying before 1 January 2022.

Exemptions from Mechanical Services Licensing Requirements

Who doesn’t need a QBCC mechanical services licence?

Exemptions from holding a QBCC mechanical services licence include, but are not limited to:

  • Electricians carrying out electrical work, which they are allowed to perform under the Electrical Safety Act 2020, do not need a QBCC licence unless they carry out building work.
  • Installation of air-conditioning systems in class 1a or 10 buildings (e.g. houses and townhouses)and installation of single head split systems if the work is of a value of $3,300 or less.
  • Apprentices, trainees and other students who carry out mechanical services work as part of their vocational studies must be supervised, but do not need to be licensed.
  • A worker performing mechanical services work and is employed by a public hospital, does not require a licence to perform mechanical services work.
  • Employees carrying out building work do not need a QBCC licence unless they also carry out mechanical services work.
  • Head contractors carrying out building work may not require a QBCC Mechanical Services Contractor licence if the contract is for commercial work.

Who needs a QBCC mechanical services licence and when?

The requirement to hold a licence commenced on 1 January 2020, however there are several key exemptions that operate to remove or delay the application of the licensing requirement for mechanical services work only.

Limited exemptions

Existing businesses – section 42A of the QBCC Act offers business who currently perform mechanical services work 6 months to be licensed (1 July 2020) for work not previously regulated.

Current licensing requirements for air-conditioning and refrigeration work (RAC work) valued at more than $3,300 will continue to apply. Exemption applies to Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services work valued at $3,300 or less and medical gas work. New entrants (that is those who have not been operating a business for this work in Queensland prior to commencement) will require a licence immediately (and prior to carrying out mechanical services work) as section 42A will not apply to them. An example would be interstate companies that want to start operating in Queensland.

Workers

Employees of appropriately licensed contractors are exempt for up to 2 years (1 January 2022). Employees must however, be licensed immediately:

  • Upon the employee completing an apprenticeship (if completed after 1/1/2020); or 
  • If the employee is a nominee for a company. 

An employee will also be exempt from licensing requirements for up to 6 months (1 July 2020) if employed by an unlicensed contractor who is not required to hold a licence for the work due to the operation of section 42A of the QBCC Act. The exemption ceases the earlier of:

  • the contractor having an application determined;
    • if approved, the employee of a licensed contractor exemption may apply apply);
    • if refused, neither contractor nor employee can continue to perform the mechanical services work (can no longer work); or
  • the employee completing an apprenticeship (if completed after 1/1/2020); or 
  • the employee is a nominee for a company; or
  • 1 July 2020 (default expiry of the exemption provision).

Ongoing exemptions

Other licence or authorisation

Section 42CA (Unlawful carrying out of mechanical services work) of the QBCC Act is the occupational offence provision. Section 42CA(1)(b) provides that persons who holds a licence or authorisation under the QBCC Act or another Act for the work may continue to perform the work without a mechanical services licence.

Note: an exemption under section 42CA is separate to any licensing requirement under section 42 (Unlawful carrying out of building work)

Builders will continue to be able to advertise and contract for this work but their scope of work has been amended so that they can no longer personally perform the work without the relevant mechanical services licence.

Apprentices, trainees, and persons undertaking vocational studies in the trade

Section 42CA(3) provides an ongoing licensing exemption for apprentices, trainees and other students who carry out mechanical services work as part of their vocational studies.

Existing Licensees Carrying-out Mechanical Services Work

What if I am an existing QBCC licensee carrying-out mechanical services work?

Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Mechanical Services’ (RAC) licensees:

  • Licensees who held an active QBCC Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services work (Limited and Unlimited Design) licence as at 31/12/19 do not need to take any action. That is, there was no requirement for these licensees to submit an application or pay additional fees for the new licence class.
  • On 1 January 2020, QBCC automatically transitioned the active licence to the equivalent mechanical services licence under the new framework.
  • If these licensees want to perform mechanical services – plumbing work, they will need to apply for this licence. 
  • Refer to the Mechanical Services - Air-conditioing and Refrigeration section of this document for further information.

Does a transitioned RAC licensee receive a new licence card for free?

No - existing RAC licensees that have transitioned automatically to the new mechanical services licence classes will only receive a new licence card after the completion of their next renewal. Alternatively, at any time they can request a new licence card and pay the accompanying fee.

Builder licensees

QBCC builder licensees will continue to be able to advertise and contract for mechanical services work; however, their scope of work has been amended so that they can no longer personally perform the work without the relevant mechanical services licence.Therefore, holders of builder licences must hold a mechanical services work licence to personally perform the work. They must obtain the relevant licence before 1 July 2020 to be able to continue to personally perform the work.

Contractor licensees

Contractors who currently personally perform mechanical services work as incidental work will be required to be licensed for this work after 1 July 2020 (s42A applies).

Gasfitting licensees

Licensees who hold a QBCC Gasfitting licence and have at least 6 months’ experience in the Mechanical Services – Medical Gas scope of work are eligible to apply for the new Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence without a technical qualification. Fees are required for these applications.Refer to the Mechanical Services - Medical Gas section for further information.

Plumbing and Draining licensees

Holders of a QBCC Act Plumbing and Drainage licence will require a Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence to carry out mechanical services plumbing work as the scope of work is not currently contained in their existing licence class. Licensees who hold a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage licence and have at least 6 months’ experience in the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence scope of work are eligible to apply for the new Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence without a technical qualification. QBCC Plumbing and Drainage contractor licensees who meet the requirements for the Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence (including via the alternative pathway) may be eligible for a free Mechanical Services - Plumbing contractor licence if the application is made by 31 March 2020.

Refer to the Mechanical Services - Plumbing section for further information.

Restricted Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licensees

Licensees who hold a Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence can apply for a Mechanical Services - Plumbing occupational licence.

As these licensees hold the technical qualification for the licence, there is nothing else that needs to be submitted with their application. Applications must be made by 31 March 2020 to be eligible for the fee waiver. Refer to section 8.4 of this document for further information.

Owner Builder’ permit holders

What mechanical services work can an owner builder personally carry out?

Owner builders must not personally carry out mechanical services work if the value of the work is more than $1,100 (including GST).

Employees Carrying Out Mechanical Services Work

What implications does QBCC mechanical services licensing have for employees?

All employees who personally carry out mechanical services work will need to hold a licence by 1 January 2022. This includes full time, part time and casual employees. However, employees that are not nominees for a company need to hold a mechanical services licence by 1 July 2020. Employees finishing apprenticeships after 1 January 2020 are required to hold a licence upon completion of their apprenticeship.

What QBCC mechanical services licence does an employee need?

Licence applicants need to apply for the licence class that covers the work they will perform. There are three different mechanical services licence classes available for an occupational licence:

  • Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence
  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence
  • Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence

If my employees do not hold any qualifications, how are they going to get a QBCC licence?

Employees, that are not a nominee for a company, have until 1 January 2022 to get their licence. Site Supervisors also have until 1 January 2022 to get their licence. Employees should contact an RTO to discuss the best avenue for obtaining the qualifications, as they must hold the licence on 1 January 2022 to continue working.See Mechanical services technical qualification pathways and case studies.

General Licensing Requirements for all Mechanical Services Streams

How will existing contractors be able to be licensed by 1 July 2020?

Some work, such as air-conditioning and refrigeration work over $3,300 is already regulated as building work under the QBCC Act. There is no change to, or exemption from, licensing requirements for work that is currently building work. The exemption in section 42A of the QBCC Act is to provide businesses who carry out work that was not previously regulated the opportunity to be licensed prior to the 1 July 2020 deadline.To enable compliance with licensing requirements, the regulation identifies licensees who hold certain existing licence classes and who may perform relevant mechnaical services work and provides them with an alternative option to meet the technical qualifications for a transitional period of up to 6 months.

Further, temporary fee-free licences can be obtained for certain licence classes.Refer to About new mechanical services licences.

Is there a requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for QBCC mechanical services licences?

No - there is no CPD requirement.

Licence Types

What types of QBCC mechanical services licences are available?

There are seven different mechanical services licence classes available.

For Contractor, Nominee Supervisor and Site Supervisor licence types:

  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Unlimited Design) licence
  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Limited Design) licence
  • Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence
  • Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence

For an Occupational licence type:

  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence
  • Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence
  • Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence

Licence types

There are four different licence types available. Applicants must decide what type of licence they will need. This is generally determined by their roles and responsibilities in the building industry:

  • Contractor – can be held as an individual or a company - allows licence holder to supervise work, be a nominee for a company and also enter into contracts with clients.
  • Nominee Supervisor – allows licence holder to supervise work and be the nominee for a company. The nominee supervisor must be an officer or employee of the company.
  • Site Supervisor – allows an employee or officer of a licensed contractor to supervise work under the contractor’s licence.
  • Occupational – is essential to carry out mechanical services work as an employee. Employees do not need an occupational licence to carry out building work.

See About new mechanical services licences for detailed requirements for each licence class, which is different for each licence type.

Are QBCC mechanical services licence classes only ‘Occupational’?

No - there are also Contractor, Nominee Supervisor and Site Supervisor types of licences.

Can a ‘Nominee Supervisor’ personally perform building work, including mechanical services work?

No - nominee supervisors can only supervise building work, including mechanical services work.

Does a ‘Nominee Supervisor’ need an ‘Occupational’ licence

Yes - if they want to personally perform occupational work, including mechanical services work.

Can a ‘Site Supervisor’ personally perform building work, including mechanical services work?

No - they can only supervise building work, including mechanical services work.

Qualifications

What qualifications will be required to obtain a QBCC mechanical services licence?

There are multiple qualification pathways to mechanical services licences. This approach is used for most licences under Queensland building and construction laws.The Queensland Government worked with industry, trade unions and RTOs about the technical qualifications as being suitable pathways for the mechanical services licence classes.

For details about technical qualifications, see Mechanical services technical qualification pathways and case studies.

How will individuals who do not have qualifications and currently carry out mechanical services work be able to obtain the new QBCC licence? What training will they be required to undertake?

Transitional arrangements are in place to help tradespeople to change into the new licensing framework.This includes providing alternative pathways to recognise skills already gained in the workplace or through prior study, such as recognised prior learning or a trade skills test. In addition, existing workers in the industry will have a further two years (up to and including 31 December 2021) to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements for licensing. Any individual who believes they already hold the relevant skills, but do not hold the technical qualifications relevant to mechanical services work, may apply to a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Experience

Are there waivers for the QBCC experience licensing requirement?

All practical experience requirements are deferred until 1 January 2022 UNLESS the applicant held an existing licence in Gasfitting, Plumbing and Drainage, or Refrigeration , Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services including limited or unlimited design, and is applying under the alternative technical qualifications pathway and providing 6 months’ relevant experience.

Financials

Is there a QBCC licensing requirement to hold Professional Indemnity Insurance for any of the mechanical services licences?

No – there is no licensing requirement under the QBCC (MFR) Regulation 2018 to hold professional indemnity insurance for these licence classes.

Fees

Are there any fee waivers for QBCC mechanical services licence applications?

Yes - temporary licence fee waiver for applications have been offered to reduce the cost to those already in the industry.There is an ongoing waiver for the holders of a Plumbing and Drainage Act Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence. See Mechanical Services – Transitional Requirements for further information.

What Mechanical Services Licence Classes are Available?

There are three mechanical services streams

Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration

For contractors, nominee supervisors and site supervisors, the two existing QBCC licence classes have been renamed, with only minor changes to the licence scopes:

  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Unlimited Design).
  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Limited Design).

For occupational licensees, the new licence scope does not include design, so there is only one class:

  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration.

Mechanical Services – Plumbing

This new licence class is available for contractors, nominee supervisors, site supervisors and occupational licensees.

Mechanical Services – Medical Gas

This new licence class is available for contractors, nominee supervisors, site supervisors and occupational licensees.

Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration

How does the introduction of QBCC mechanical services licences affect holders of existing QBCC RAC licensees?

Licensees who held an active QBCC Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services work (Limited and Unlimited Design) licence, do not need to take any action. On 1 January 2020, QBCC automatically transitioned the active licence to the equivalent mechanical services licence under the new framework. Licensees will be issued with a new licence card reflecting the new classes upon renewal.

How are the new QBCC Mechanical Services - Air‑Conditioning and Refrigeration licence classes different to the previous QBCC (pre‑2020) RAC licence classes?

Prior to 2020, there were two contractor licence classes for refrigeration, air conditioning and mechanical services work (limited and unlimited design), which were required to be held if an individual or company wanted to contract, subcontract or advertise to undertake this type of work and the value of the work was more than $3,300.These contractor licence classes were transitioned to the new mechanical services licensing framework on 1 January 2020. The main changes are the title of the licence classes and the threshold value of the mechnaical services work dropping to $0. In addition, there was no occupational licence in Queensland for refrigeration, air conditioning and mechanical services work prior to 2020. The new licensing framework includes a single occupational licence for this type of work.

What type of building work is included in the QBCC Mechanical Services - Air‑Conditioning and Refrigeration licence classes?

Building work involving constructing, installing, replacing, repairing, altering, maintaining, testing or commissioning any of the following for a building:

  • Air‑conditioning;
  • Air handling systems;
  • Equipment in which a refrigerant gas is, or is to be, used;
  • Refrigeration;
  • Certain design and preparation of plans and specifications of the above;
  • Constructing, installing, repairing, altering, maintaining, testing or commissioning a mechanical ventilation system in a building;
  • Certain design and preparation of plans and specifications for a mechanical ventilation system in a building, either for the licensee’s personal use, or for use in building work to be performed by the licensee personally (excluding occupational licences).

Is a QBCC licence required to install a single head split system?

There has been no change to the regulatory framework for the installation of single head split systems.  A QBCC licence is required if the value of the installation of a single head split system air conditioner exceeds $3,300, which includes the value of building materials. The value of the work cannot be reduced to avoid QBCC licensing requirements by:

  •  splitting the contract into multiple components for each split system; or
  •  excluding the electrical work component of the job.

No QBCC licence is required to install these systems if the value of the work is under $3,300. There are however other legislative requirements for any individual installing single head split systems of any value including but not limited to the licensing requirements under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Management Act 1989 (C’wt). There is no requirement to hold a mechanical services licence to install a single head split system.

Is a split system air-conditioning unit an appliance? 

For QBCC licensing requirements, a split system air-conditioning unit is installed as a system and is not an applicance.  Therefore, the value of the unit must be included in calculating the value of the building work. 

If a stand alone split system needs a repair, is a QBCC licence required?

Yes - a QBCC Mechanical Services – Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning licence is required to repair a split system in a building that is not a class 1a or class 10 building.

What QBCC mechanical services licence could an electrician need (e.g. to install air-conditioning systems in commercial premises)?

Electrician applicants should apply for the Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence if that covers the work they will perform.

For Contractor, Nominee Supervisor and Site Supervisor licence types:

  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Unlimited Design) licence
  • Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (Limited Design) licence

For an Occupational licence type

Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence

Why do air-conditioner mechanics require a QBCC occupational licence if the employee has an Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) licence?

ARC and QBCC license different activities.A refrigerant handling licence (RHL) issued by the ARC is a requirement of the Australian Government when handling fluorocarbon refrigerants used in refrigeration and air conditioning units. The ARC licensing framework does not apply to all types of refrigerants, only ozone depleting gasses.

The QBCC Act regulates building work, including mechanical services work. Its scope in relation to mechanical services work is much broader than that of ARC licensing. Amongst other things, the QBCC Act establishes a framework to ensure that licensees carrying out building work have the appropriate skills and experience to competently perform the work and to provide accountability and remedy for defective building work. There will be situations where both ARC and QBCC licences are required to be held. There will be other situations where a QBCC licence is required but an ARC licence is not.

Does a Certificate 2 or ARCtick tickets (regulated by the Australian Refrigeration Council) meet the technical qualification requirement for a QBCC licence?

No - they are not part of the requirement of a QBCC licence.

What is a refrigerant under the QBCC Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence?

A substance or mixture capable of undergoing a change in phase (liquid to gas, gas to liquid) and used in a mechanical services system for the purposes of heating and cooling.

Who is permitted to install the fire dampers in the air conditioning system at the fire wall point?

Unless an exception applies, a contractor licence of the appropriate class is required to install, restore, repair or maintain fire damper assemblies.

The subject work is also fire protection work. The effect of this is that the holder of the appropriate contractor licence must personally carry out the work themselves or ensure the work is personally performed by another individual who holds an appropriate contractor licence.

For ‘common exceptions’, see the Queensland Governement website.

Specialist licence classes

A fire damper is part of the installation of a ducted air conditioning system. Within any relevant restrictions in their scope of work, specialist air-conditioning licences that may carry out (including inspect and test) fire damper assembly work are:

  • Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services including Limited Design;
  • Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services including unlimited Design;
  • Air Handing Duct Installation.

Generalist licences

Within any relevant restriction in their scopes of work, generalist licences that may carry out fire damper assembly work include:

  • Builder Low Rise;
  • Builder Medium Rise;
  • Builder Open;
  • Builder Restricted to Kitchen, Bathroom or Laundry.

How will a person applying for a QBCC Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration occupational licence be able to prove their design experience?

Design work is not included in the occupational scope of work.

Mechanical Services – Medical Gas

How was medical gas regulated prior to 1 January 2020?

Medical gas work was not regulated in Queensland; however, Queensland Health had internal administrative policies and procedures relating to this type of work.

How will the regulation of medical gas impact hospitals in regional areas?

Existing contractors engaged by the public and private health systems will need to meet licensing requirements. However, the six-month moratorium on prosecutions will effectively give them until 30 June 2020 to have their applications decided. They can continue their work during this period. In addition, transitional provisions will enable existing workers to continue working until 31 December 2021 as long as they are employed by contractors who hold the relevant mechanical services licence. This provides employees with over two years to meet licence eligibility requirements. These arrangements may help to mitigate the risk of skills shortages for regional hospitals Employees of public hospitals are not required to hold a Mechanical Services - Medical Gas Occupational licence.

Can QBCC Gasfitting trade contractor licensees carry out medical gas work with this licence?

Mechanical Services – Medical Gas work is not included in the scope of work of a gasfitter. Therefore, you will be required to hold the Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence if you want to construct, install, replace, repair, alter, test, maintain or commission a medical gas system. You can meet the technical requirements for the mechanical services – medical gas licence by either meeting the prescribed technical qualifications or meeting the requirements for an alternative qualification. Until 1 July 2020, the legislation allows the QBCC to accept alternative qualification. The alternative qualification means you can meet the technical qualifications before 1 July 2020 through your existing licence and by demonstrating 6 month’s experience in carrying out medical gas work, in compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act.

You can apply for this licence until 1 July 2020 without any additional qualifications provided, however you must have a minimum of 6 months’ experience. Application fees will apply.

Can gas work occupational licence holders* be employed with the gas work occupational licence to complete medical gas work?

A gas work licence does not include medical gas work. If your employer holds a Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence in their own right, an employee will not need to hold an occupational licence until 1 January 2022. You will be required to hold a licence if you are a nominee for a licensee, or if you complete your apprenticeship after 1 January 2020.

*Gas work occupational licences are issued by the Gas Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

The company I work for maintains air compressors and vacuum pumps for medical air in medical and dental surgeries and hospitals.Does the company need a licence and which licence?

Yes - reticulated suction of medical gas requires a licence in the class of medical gas. Medical gas is defined to include medical air. The company will need a contractor’s licence in the class of medical gas (and its nominee will at least need a nominee supervisor’s licence), if its work in maintaining the air compressors and vacuum pump falls under the following definition of medical gas system. Its employees will also need to obtain occupational licences in this class by 1 January 2022.

Will current QBCC Gasfitting licensees be required to pay an application fee if they have a pending application upon commencement?

Gasfitters are adding a new scope of work so therefore will be required to pay the application fee.

Mechanical Services – Plumbing

Is a Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licensee also required to hold a Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence to perform (as per the scope of work)?

Constructing, installing, replacing, repairing, altering, maintaining, testing or commissioning a mechanical heating or cooling system in a building that is associated with the heating and cooling of that building.

Yes - both licences are required.

Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration contractor licensees may be eligible for a free Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence if you:

  • have the required technical qualifications;
  • can show that you have performed mechanical services plumbing work (or employed workers to carry out this work) for a minimum period of six months, prior 1 January 2020; and
  • apply by 30 June 2020.

If I hold a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage trade contractor licence, am I required to hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence?

Mechanical services – plumbing work is not included in the scope of work of a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage licence. You will be required to hold a mechanical services licence if you want to undertake construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration, maintenance, testing or commissioning of a mechanical heating or cooling system in a building which is associated with the heating and cooling of that building.

You are eligible to apply for the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence if you can meet the prescribed technical qualifications. Until 1 July 2020, the legislation allows the QBCC to accept an alternative qualification.The alternative qualification means that you can meet the technical qualifications before 1 July 2020 through your existing licence by demonstrating 6 months’ experience in the scope of work of a Mechanical Services Plumbing licence You can apply for the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence contractor licence for free if you put in an application by 31 March 2020. You can still apply after this date and fees will apply

I am a plumber, that holds both Plumbing and Drainage occupational and contractor licence types, and currently perform mechanical services plumbing work. Will I need to hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence?

Yes – see Is a Mechanical Services – Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licensee also required to hold a Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence to perform (as per the scope of work) above

If I hold a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage nominee supervisor licence, am I required to hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing nominee supervisor licence?

No - you will be required to hold a nominee supervisor Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence if you are the nominee for a licensee who undertakes construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration, maintenance testing or commissioning of a mechanical heating or cooling system in building which is associated with the heating and cooling of that building.You can apply for the Mechanical Services – Plumbing license for free if you put in an application by 31 March 2020. You can still apply after this date but fees will apply.

If I hold a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage site supervisor licence, am I required to hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing site supervisor licence?

No - they will be required to hold a site supervisor Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence if they only want to supervise construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration, maintenance, testing or commissioning of a mechanical heating or cooling system in a building which is associated with the heating and cooling of the building.They can apply for the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence for free if they put in an application by 31 March 2020.  They can still apply for after this date but fees apply.

Can plumbers that hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing occupational licence apply, renew and restore a QBCC Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence? Will they be required to pay a fee?

Yes but no fee is applicable.

Could anyone carry out mechanical services plumbing work prior to the introduction of the QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence?

Yes - any incidental work under $3,300 and less. The scope of work is not plumbing under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 (PD Act). Anyone carrying out that work now needs the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence.

Are there any dual licensing implications for mechanical services?

The holders of a Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 (PD Act) Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence will benefit from the dual licensing provisions as the QBCC Mechanical Services Regulation amends the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 (PD Regulation) to include the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence as an associated QBCC licence. Schedule 9 of the PD Regulation also states that where a person holds a Mechanical Services – Plumbing contractor’s, nominee supervisor’s or site supervisor’s licence and they apply for, restore or renew a Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence, no fee is payable for the Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence.

The PD Act licences (i.e. plumbing occupational licences) do not cover the same scope of work as the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence, and accordingly both licences will be required.  The amendments to the PD Regulation mean that PD Act licensee will not need to pay PD Act licensing fees if they hold (or successfully apply for) the Mechanical Services – Plumbing licence.

Do I need to hold both contractor and occupational licence types in Mechanical Services – Plumbing?

No – only one licence type is needed. Refer to section 7.2 of this document for further information. Mechanical Services Contractor licences permit the carrying out of the work by the licence holder.