By Eamonn Ryan
One hears of doctors, lawyers and accounting auditors being disbarred, ‘struck off the register’ and unable to practice their profession despite studying for many years for their qualification. That can never happen in the plumbing profession, explains PIRB chairman Lea Smith.
As the plumbing profession establishes ever more formal and professional structures and standards over the past decade, Smith notes that the fear may have arisen among some plumbers that PIRB is capable of taking away their qualification and livelihood. Smith gives the reassurance that it is not so: “Anyone can do plumbing work, and an apprenticeship or trade school plumbing qualification cannot be taken away from the individual.”
“All we are doing is making sure that plumbers abide by the regulations and standards, which in fact all people involved in plumbing have to do in any case as it is the law. People mistakenly think it is compulsory to be registered with a professional body to undertake their trade – it is not the case. All that is the case, is that if you wish to issue a Certificate of Compliance for your work, which is a legal requirement, you need to be registered with the PIRB. So a qualified plumber may not be PIRB registered, but if a client wants a COC issued for the job, the plumber will need to get a PIRB-licensed plumber to sign off the work and issue that COC,” explains Smith. This is in the same manner as any bookkeeper can write up a business’s accounting records, but only a chartered accountant can sign them off for legal and tax purposes.
The plumber is therefore not excluded from any work, not even that requiring a COC – he simply cannot personally issue the COC. “Consequently, becoming a PIRB member is entirely voluntary, though the large number of people who join talk of the benefits that membership brings,” adds Smith.