1.0 OVERVIEW AND ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE
The administration of the Gas Act 2000 has been undertaken by the Gas Standards and Safety (GSS) section of Workplace Standards Tasmania, under the direction of Mr Stephen James Hyam, the appointed Director of Gas Safety under section 9(1) of the Gas Act 2000.
The GSS unit comprises four authorised officers and an Administrative Officer who report through the Chief Inspector of Industry Safety.
GSS administrative functions are centralised in Launceston with regional support in Hobart and Burnie, as shown in the following Table 1.
Table 1 - Staff location
|Launceston Staff||Hobart Staff||Burnie Staff|
|Manager of Gas Safety
Infrastructure Quality Assurance Officer
|Gas Safety Specialist||Infrastructure Quality Assurance Officer|
The centralisation of administrative functions in Launceston has enabled the GSS unit to develop effective communications with the administrative and operational sections of Duke Australia Operations Pty Ltd, the operators of the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline, and also with the developing operations of Powerco Tasmania Pty Ltd, licensed constructors of the Tasmanian 1st stage natural gas distribution network.
This arrangement is expected to assist functional relations during network construction and operations between both gas entities.
The evolution to date of the natural gas industry has resulted in an extensive need for development of regulatory operational functions and procedures, ongoing coordination and communication with industry stakeholders and end users in preparation for the anticipated specific technical regulation of the main elements of the natural gas industry:
gas appliance certification;
gas technical standards;
gas fitter competency standards; and
gas worker competency standards.
This ongoing legislative development program, along with the natural gas industry regulatory requirements, will continue to place a heavy load on the section's resources, especially during the 1st stage natural gas distribution network construction and rollout program and the anticipated 2nd stage development which is likely to commence during the initial development phase in 2004.
2.0 GAS DISTRIBUTION
The Gas Standards and Safety section has worked closely with Powerco Tasmania Pty Ltd (Powerco) and the Office of the Energy Regulator in the assessment of submissions for safety and operating plans. Approvals have been issued by the Director of Gas Safety (DoGS) for the first stage gas distribution network submissions. This has enabled the DoGS to issue a licence under section 24 of the Act.
Approvals have also been issued to entities by the DoGS for:
Design verifiers of both LPG and NG distribution networks; and
Auditors for NG facilities, safety and operating plans.
3.0 GAS INSTALLATIONS AND APPLIANCES
The development of processes, which enable DoGS assessment and acceptance of gas installations, has continued with the initial systems and processes being utilised for:
Type "B" gas appliance acceptance; and
Complex Gas Installations acceptance.
These processes have been established with both the LPG and the NG industry and have enabled design, testing, and commissioning and operational safety standards to be implemented. This will ensure successful completion of major natural gas appliance conversions to NG for major Tasmanian industrial consumers under section 77 of the Act.
A further review of these procedures, involving stakeholders, will enable additional development and parallel implementation of gas installation acceptance processes for:
Standard gas installations; and
Prescribed Standard Installations
in readiness for expected development and construction of NG reticulation systems in 2004 as part of the 2nd stage rollout construction program.
4.0 GAS TECHNICAL STANDARDS &WORKING GROUPS
The adoption and implementation of relevant gas standards and codes is an essential component of the gas appliance acceptance processes.
GSS has maintained a continuous and rigorous schedule of meetings with industry stakeholders, end users, legislators and gas industry technical organisations at both a State and national level in the development, evolution and review of gas safety technical standards for the Tasmanian gas industry.
GSS has formed close alliances with members of the technical representatives of Standards Australia and the Australian Gas Association committees, enhancing the integration of national standards into the natural gas industry.
Other main industry and regulatory committees involved in the ongoing development programs are included in the following:
Table 2 - GSS work groups - committee functions
|COMMITTEE MEMBER||ORGANISATIONS||COMMITTEE PURPOSE|
|Occupational Licensing||Dept Economic Development
DIER, Workplace Standards Tasmania (WST) and Infrastructure Policy Divisions.
|Development of Occupational Licensing Act.|
|Gas Regulatory and Compensation Working Group||Office of Energy Regulator.DIER, WSTDept of Economic Development.||Development of economic, environmental and technical gas industry standards.|
|Gas Technical Regulators Committee||All states and NZ gas technical regulators.||Development of national gas safety standards for distribution and appliances.|
|Gas Technical Certification Committee||Some state and NZ gas technical Regulators.||Gas appliance manufacturers. Development and implementation of appliance manufacturing standards.
The committee forms part of the governance arrangements for the AGA Product Certification Scheme.
The creation of additional working groups is anticipated for evaluation and development of training for gas industry workers and gas fitters. It will also be necessary to develop industry advisory and education programs.
5.0 GAS APPLIANCE CERTIFICATION
Gas appliance and component certification under the Australian Gas Association (AGA) national systems, on available evidence, appears to be providing a comprehensive system of gas appliance and component certification ensuring that national standards are enforced in the fledgling Tasmanian natural gas industry.
Gas appliance recalls were initiated for a number of imported 'domestic' gas appliances found to be defective by interstate regulators.
Through the national advisory process the GSS unit implemented recall and information programs on these matters with Tasmanian gas retailers. This enhanced public safety under Part 4 'Safety of Infrastructure, Installations and Appliances' of the Act.
6.0 STAFF TRAINING
GSS authorised officers have attended both intrastate and interstate specialised gas training and education courses and seminars specifically selected to enhance skills and competencies of GSS staff in gas transmission, gas distribution and appliance design and operational safety standards.
An ongoing commitment to staff training will be critical to meet the demands of the evolving NG industry and projected gas distribution development and gas appliance conversions expected to evolve within the Tasmanian economy as NG and industrial technology becomes available to increasing numbers of natural gas consumers.
7.0 GAS WORKER TRAINING AND ACCREDITATION
The development of gas workers training programs will need to be available for persons who construct the gas distribution networks for Powerco.
Development of these programs is advancing through the TAFE nationally recognised training framework in anticipation of construction commencement in late 2003.
The new National Gas Qualification Framework Competency Standards for gas workers are currently under development
This framework will enable gas workers to obtain competency at six specific levels from Certificate II through to an Advanced Diploma qualification.
Development of this national framework is through the Australian National Training Authority and the Electro Technology, Communications and Energy Utilities network. GSS has direct input into this review and development process through the state organisation and regular development seminars.
8.0 GAS FITTER TRAINING AND ACCREDITATION
Gas fitter training programs have been conducted by TAFE training programs for the NG industry. This involves natural gas and restricted electrical training programs.
The continued development of gas fitter training and accreditation needs has been met with the continued implementation by TAFE in delivery of nationally endorsed training to gas fitters.
Gas Fitter Certificates of Competency are issued under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995, by the Director of Industry Safety with the assessment procedure for gas fitters by GSS utilising assessment instruments provided by the Victorian Plumbing Industry Commission (PIC).
GSS has been active and participated in the Victorian review of its assessment program for type "B" gas fitters.
Recommendations from this review are being included in the Tasmanian assessment processes under a working arrangement with PIC.
GSS will continue to conduct competency assessments enabled by interim arrangements under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 with Certificates of Competency issued to successful applicants.
A working alliance is developing with the Master Plumbers Association of Tasmania. This will endeavour to ensure the delivery of educational material targeted at the consumer and industry. Gas fitter information and education programs are planned for 2004 in anticipation of increased consumer demands mid to late 2004.
The DoGS has approved the AGA as an external certifying authority for the certification of individual gas appliances imported into Tasmania (section 70).
Initial agreement with the AGA for the implementation of an interim procedure which involves Victorian gas fitters implementing Tasmanian onsite assessment of the AGA safety certification of individual imported non certified gas appliances, is also undergoing development.
This interim certification system is planned for review late in 2003. It is intended that the AGA provide training to Tasmanian gas fitters so that they can be authorised to undertake appliance certification of specialist appliances in compliance with the Act.
Planned implementation of administrative arrangements and training programs is anticipated for early 2004, with assistance from the Department of Economic Development, Skills Development Unit.
General statistical information on the operation of the GSS unit is provided in
Table 3 - General Statistical Data 2002-03
|General enquiries processed by GSS||1273|
|Complex Gas Installations assessed||27|
|Complex Gas Installation Field Audits||120|
|Type “B” Appliances Assessed||41|
|Type “B” field audits||167|
|Standard Gas Installation field audits||72|
|Information packages released on gas fitter assessment and certification||85|
|Number of Gas Fitters who successfully completed assessment and certification||20|
Work is progressing towards a review of the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline Safety and Operating Plan (Duke Australia Operations Pty Ltd) to enable parallel coordinated operation between the gas transmission and gas distribution network operators who must develop and implement a safety and operating plan for the NG distribution facilities.
The unit's capacity to meet the anticipated needs for regulatory and educational needs across all areas scoped by gas legislation is expected to be inadequate if the second stage distribution rollout commences and runs in parallel with the initial rollout of the distribution backbone networks.
The capacity to audit, advise, and enforce all areas when standard installations commence into residential consumers will need to be reviewed and resources expanded during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2004.
DIRECTOR OF GAS SAFETY