Given the confusion and ongoing debate around Certificates of Compliance (CoC’s) in standards and the role of the professional body for plumbers (PIRB) it is important to clarify a few points.
- 1. Changes to SANS 10254.
The long process of amending SANS 10254 was completed on 24 June 2022 when the revised standard was gazetted. The only changes to the standard from the 2017 version were the removal of the requirement for a certificate of compliance and the removal of the reference to the professional body for plumbers PIRB. All other installation requirements remain the same.
Although SABS has decided that requirements for CoC’s will be removed from all standards for all industries, the requirement for a CoC on Solar water heater, heat pumps and grey water systems still remain in force until such time as these standards are updated. We strongly encourage all plumbers to adhere to the requirements of these standards.
- 2. IOPSA supports the need for a certificate of compliance (CoC).
In the absence of any other adequate mechanism to ensure compliance to the plumbing laws, regulations and standards the CoC has proved to be the most effective tool available. The reality is that the vast majority of municipalities do not have the capacity, skills or funding to enforce compliance. This includes organs of state as well. The plumbing industry has been flooded by unqualified “plumbers”, non-compliant materials and incorrect, dangerous installations. The impacts on homeowners’ health & safety, the environment, water security and damage to municipal infrastructure has been massive. Not to mention the impact on the formal plumbing sector which has declined every year since 2016, slowly being swallowed by the unregulated informal sector. The only CoC which currently has any meaningful impact is the PIRB CoC. If, in future, another CoC or some other mechanism emerges which is able to protect the public and qualified plumbers, IOPSA would consider supporting it too. For now, there is only one and without it (or something similar) our industry is in serious trouble. Irrespective of changes to SANS 10254, we still encourage all members to continue issuing CoC’s as this brings trust and professionalism to the industry and sets you apart from unqualified people operating in the industry.
Of great importance is that plumbers in the replacement market continue to notify clients of pre-existing non-conformances, in writing. This requirement of the Consumer Protection Act is critical in ensuring that owners are properly informed and can make an informed decision, whilst protecting plumbers from possible liability for work they did not do.
- 3. IOPSA supports the need for a professional body for plumbers.
If we as an industry want the recognition that plumbers so rightly deserve as a successful professional career, then a professional body is very necessary. A professional body brings more to the table than a voluntary association and are subject to scrutiny by SAQA in terms of the NQF act. Not only does a professional body raise the awareness of professional plumbers but they ensure that those plumbers act professionally and that the public can rely on them. At the moment PIRB is the only SAQA recognised professional body for plumbers, hence IOPSA’s ongoing support. It must be noted that the support is not unconditional and IOPSA regularly challenges PIRB on a range of matters. If, in future, another recognised professional body for plumbers is established IOPSA will certainly consider them too.
- 4. A certificate of compliance through a government department.
It is important to understand that in all likelihood there will soon be a requirement for a CoC in some or other form, possibly though one or more of the government departments. Several government departments have already recognised the impending crisis that will unfold (and in some cases is already unfolding) if there is no mechanism to enforce the standards. Some of these departments are at an advanced stage in their deliberations and we are hopeful that they will be concluded in the very near future.
- 5. The PIRB CoC will remain available.
The PIRB CoC has been available for more than a decade. It was only after the benefits of the CoC became known that it was first incorporated in a SANS standard in 2014. The PIRB assured IOPSA that if the requirement for a CoC is removed from SANS 10254 the CoC’s will remain available for use and will be supported by IOPSA. Plumbers, consumers and all other parties will still be able to benefit from the value and more importantly the protection brought by the CoC.
There is ample evidence that South Africa’s water and sanitation situation is in real trouble. Plumbers obviously play a massive role in this sector and ensuring that there is compliance to the regulations and standards is critical. The effects that unqualified “plumbers”, non-compliance, sub-standard materials and poor plumbing practices are having on the country and our industry are well documented and unless we collectively do something to stem the tide we will all face serious consequences. IOPSA is determined to do whatever it can to protect its members and ensure that this situation is not allowed to continue.
Once again, I would like to thank all IOPSA members for their support, we really couldn’t do it without you.