Mechanical services – frequently asked questions and myth busters
Mechanical Services - Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Queensland need a new licensing framework?
New licensing requirements for mechanical services trades were introduced in a staged approach from 1 January 2020 to better protect the health and safety of Queenslanders. These changes reflect the important and specialised skill involved in this work.
The Queensland Government established the new licensing framework for mechanical services work to address the significant health and safety risk posed by incorrectly installed or maintained mechanical services systems such as heating, cooling and medical gas systems.
What is the definition of mechanical services work?
Refer to the Mechanical Services web pages
What doesn’t mechanical services work include?
Refer to the Mechanical Services web pages.
Who needs to be licensed and by when?
From 1 January 2020
All businesses (contractors) and nominee supervisors need to hold a mechanical services licence. There were some exemptions for some contractors that applied until 30 June 2020.
From 1 July 2020
Individual contractors, companies and their nominee supervisors need to have the appropriate mechanical services licence.
From 1 January 2022
All companies and individuals performing mechanical services work need to have a mechanical services licence. This includes site supervisors and occupational licences for employees.
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.
QBCC licensees carrying out mechanical services work: do they need a licence?
Do Mechanical Services – Air-conditioning and Refrigeration licensees need a licence to carry out mechanical services plumbing work?
If these licensees want to perform mechanical services – plumbing work, they will need to apply for this licence class.
Do Plumbing and Drainage licensees need a licence to carry out mechanical services work?
Those who hold a QBCC Act Plumbing and Drainage licence 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 Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 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.
Do ‘Gasfitting’ licensees need a licence to carry out mechanical services work?
Licensees who hold a QBCC Gasfitting licence and have at least 6 months’ safety compliant experience in the Mechanical Services – Medical Gas scope of work are eligible to apply for the new Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence without any other technical qualification.
Do builder licensees need a licence to carry out mechanical services work?
Those with builder licences must hold a mechanical services work licence to personally perform the work. 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.
Do owner builder permit holders need a licence to carry out mechanical services work?
Owner builders must not personally carry out mechanical services work if the value of the work is more than $1,100 (including GST).
Employees and apprentices carrying out mechanical services work
Do employees who perform mechanical services work need a licence?
Yes, all employees who personally carry out mechanical services work will need to hold a licence by 1 January 2022.
Do apprentices who carry out mechanical services work need a licence?
Employees finishing apprenticeships after 1 January 2020 are required to hold a licence upon completion of their apprenticeship.
If an employee does not hold the prescribed technical qualification, what do they need to do to get a mechanical services licence?
Employees (who are not a nominee for a company) and site supervisors have until 1 January 2022 to get their licence. Employees should contact a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to discuss the best avenue for obtaining the qualifications, as they must hold the licence on 1 January 2022 to continue working. For more information, refer to the Technical Qualification Pathways page on the QBCC website.
Also, Mechanical Services – Plumbing and Mechanical Services – Medical Gas applicants may be able to use their skills and experience to qualify for a licence using the Alternative Qualification Pathway.
General licensing requirements for mechanical services streams
What classes 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
What types of licences are available?
There are four different licence types available. Applicants need to decide what type of licence they will need in accordance with their roles and responsibilities in the building industry:
- Contractor – can be held as an individual or a company - allows licence holder to supervise work, personally carry out the 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.
Is there a requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for QBCC mechanical services licences?
No - there is no CPD requirement.
What qualifications will be required to obtain a QBCC mechanical services licence?
The technical qualifications fact sheets for the various types of mechanical services licences are on the Technical Qualification Pathways page.
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).
Also, Mechanical Services – Plumbing and Mechanical Services – Medical Gas applicants may be able to use their skills and experience to qualify for a licence using the Alternative Qualification Pathway. The alternative qualification pathway has been extended to 31 December 2020 for contractor and nominee supervisor licence applicants, and 31 December 2021 for site supervisor and occupational licence applicants.
What are the practical experience requirements for mechanical services licences?
All practical experience requirements are deferred until 1 January 2022 UNLESS the applicant holds an existing licence in Gasfitting or Plumbing and Drainage, and is applying under the Alternative Qualifications Pathway, and providing 6 months’ relevant experience.
Is there a 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.
Are there any fee waivers for QBCC mechanical services licence applications?
You may be eligible for a waiver of your PD Act Water Plumber – Water and Sanitary licence fee if you successfully apply for a Mechanical Services – Plumbing occupational licence.
Alternative qualification pathways
What are the alternative qualification pathways for individuals who may not have qualifications but currently carry out mechanical services work?
Recent changes to the eligibility criteria may make it easier for Mechanical Services – Plumbing and Mechanical Services – Medical Gas applicants to use their skills and experience to qualify for a licence during the transitional period. Under the alternative pathway:
- Additional qualifications will be accepted
- If your qualifications differ from those prescribed in the Technical Qualifications for Licensing document, you may still submit your application, requesting the qualification be considered as equivalent. You may be required to obtain an assessment by a registered training organisation (RTO). Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis
- The alternative qualification pathway has been extended to 31 December 2020 for contractor and nominee supervisor licence applicants, and 31 December 2021 for site supervisor and occupational licence applicants. If you are relying on the alternative qualification pathway, your licence must be granted on or before the extended date.
- If you are unable to demonstrate competence for the complete scope of work for the new licence class, the QBCC may be able to grant you a licence with restrictions on the scope of work you are lawfully allowed to perform.
In addition, Mechanical Services – Medical Gas contractor licence applicants have an extended period until 31 December 2020, to meet certain aspects of the minimum financial requirements (MFR), given they are new entrants to the QBCC licensing program.
It is important to note that you cannot contract for mechanical services work until your licence is granted.
The diagram above demonstrates proposed additional alternative pathway options available for a Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence. Importantly, a plumbing apprenticeship can now be used along with six months’ relevant experience in mechanical services - plumbing work. For those applying for a Mechanical Services – Plumbing contractor, nominee supervisor or site supervisor licence, the relevant experience must be gained under a QBCC plumbing and drainage contractor, nominee supervisor or site supervisor licence.
The diagram above shows the additional alternative pathways options available for a Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence during the transition period. Previously, only applicants holding a QBCC Gasfitting licence were able to demonstrate experience. Now those with a relevant apprenticeship or engineering degree can also use this pathway. Those applying for a Site Supervisor or Occupational licence can use two years’ relevant experience gained prior to 1 January 2020.
Specific licensing requirements for air-conditioning and refrigeration
Were holders of the previous QBCC Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) licences transitioned automatically to the new Mechanical Services licence?
Licensees who held an active QBCC Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services work (Limited and Unlimited Design) licence, were automatically transitioned to the equivalent mechanical services licence under the new framework on 1 January 2020. 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 mechanical services work dropping to $0.
In addition, there was no occupational licence under the RAC licence classes prior to 2020. The new licensing framework includes a single occupational licence for this type of work (which does not include design).
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 handling systems;
- Equipment in which a refrigerant gas is, or is to be, used;
- 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. Installation of air conditioning systems in houses and townhouses and installation of single head split systems are exempt from licensing requirements if the work is valued at $3,300 or less (including the value of the unit and building materials). Note, the value of the work cannot be reduced to avoid QBCC licensing requirements by splitting the contract into multiple components or excluding the electrical 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 appropriate Mechanical Services - Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration licence that covers the work they will perform.
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 requirements for a QBCC licence.
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. Refer to the fire damper assemblies blog.
Specific licensing requirements for Mechanical Services – Medical Gas
How does the regulation of medical gas impact hospitals?
- Existing contractors engaged by the public and private health systems needed to be licensed by 1 July 2020
- 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.
- Public hospitals and its employees are not required to hold a Mechanical Services – Medical Gas 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, they will be required to hold the Mechanical Services – Medical Gas licence if they want to construct, install, replace, repair, alter, test, maintain or commission a medical gas system.
- They can meet the technical requirements for the mechanical services – medical gas licence by either meeting the prescribed technical qualifications or meeting the requirements under the Alternative Qualification Pathway.
What is considered Mechanical Services – Medical Gas work, what do I need a licence to do?
Please refer to the scope of work section in the Technical Qualifications and Experience fact sheet.
Can gas work occupational licence holders* complete medical gas work?
A gas work licence does not include medical gas work in its scope. If their 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. They are required to hold a licence if they are a nominee for a licensee, or if they complete their apprenticeship after 1 January 2020.
*Gas work occupational licences are issued by Resources Safety and Health Queensland
Specific licensing requirements for 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 of the Mechanical Services Plumbing licence)?:
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.
If someone holds a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage (contractor, nominee supervisor or site supervisor) licence, are they required to hold a QBCC Mechanical Services - Plumbing licence as well?
Mechanical services – plumbing work is not included in the scope of work of a QBCC Plumbing and Drainage licence. They will be required to hold a mechanical services plumbing licence if they want to undertake or supervise the 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.
Are there any dual licensing implications for mechanical services?
Where a person holds a Mechanical Services – Plumbing contractor’s, nominee supervisor’s, site supervisor’s or occupational 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.
Do I need to hold both contractor and occupational licence types in Mechanical Services – Plumbing if I want to personally carry out the work?
No, only one licence type is needed. Contractor licences permit the carrying out of the work by the licence holder.
Mechanical Services - Myth Busters