Cleaners still break the law by servicing waterless urinals

Way back on 23 August 2015 we published a blog , "Cleaners Are Breaking The Law by Servicing Any Waterless Urinal" to answer questions continually asked of us by cleaners and cleaning contractors.

A phone call I received last week from a cleaning company supervisor asking me are cleaners able to legally undertake urinal servicing reminded me nothing has changed in the last six years. The pressure many cleaning contractors face from unscrupulous building owners and property managers is a continual problem.

There has always been a tendency by commercial building owners and their property managers to demand that cleaning contractors to undertake work tasks that are legally required to be undertaken by licensed plumbers. Cleaners undertaking plumbing tasks such as urinal servicing are breaking several laws as are their employers and supervisors.

Cleaners are not licensed plumbers

Servicing a urinal is not pleasant work even for a trained plumber so imagine what it must feel like to an untrained cleaner. The simple act of removing an insert or cartridge from a waterless urinal is unquestionably breaking the law unless it is undertaken by a licensed plumber.

Plumbers, unlike cleaners, are trained to undertake tasks such as clearing of drains or working on toilets or urinals. These tasks require specialised training, diagnostic skills and an awareness of health and safety issues. Plumbers are licensed to undertake urinal servicing by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission who are legally required to protect public health and safety through the plumbing and drainage licensing system.

There are only eight plumbing tasks that cleaners or any other person can undertake in Queensland and servicing of urinals is definitely not one of them.

Who can service urinals?

All urinals whether water flushing or waterless are an integral part of any buildings plumbing system and therefore must be installed, serviced and maintained in accordance with the:

  • manufacturers instructions
  • WaterMark Certification Scheme
  • the Plumbing Code of Australia
  • the national plumbing and drainage standard AS/NZS 3500.2:2018
  • all relevant statutory and local codes in the state or territory in which the urinal is installed

The servicing of any urinal is NOT part of the general cleaning requirements of a urinal. Unfortunately many building owners write the servicing of urinals into cleaning contracts.

All water flushing and waterless urinals in Australia require servicing where a component part is replaced or disconnected from the plumbing or drainage system for maintenance or servicing. Performing of this maintenance or servicing work can only ever be legally undertaken by a licensed plumber.

Urinal servicing is legally classified as Minor Work in Queensland

All work undertaken on fixtures, fittings or pipes that are part of a plumbing and drainage system are regulated work. The servicing or maintenance requirements of a water flushing urinal or a waterless urinal are classified as Minor Work by schedule 6 of the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 as below:

You can be fined for illegal urinal servicing

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 details in Part 3, General offences that you can be fined for the servicing or maintenance requirements of a water flushing urinal or a waterless urinal or for ordering employees to undertake.

servicing of waterless urinals

What are the penalties for cleaners illegally servicing urinals?

Cleaners who are frequently forced by their supervisors and employers to undertake illegal urinal servicing face the following penalties:

  • for a first offence $34462.50
  • for a second offence $41355.00
  • for subsequent offences $48247.50 or 1 year's imprisonment

What are the penalties for ordering cleaners to illegally service urinals?

Building owners, building managers, cleaning company owners, cleaning company supervisors who direct or order cleaners to undertake illegal urinal servicing face the following penalties:

  • for a first offence $34462.50
  • for a second offence $41355.00
  • for subsequent offences $48247.50 or 1 year's imprisonment

Which laws and regulations are cleaners in breach of by servicing urinals?

Cleaners who are required and frequently forced by their supervisors and employers to undertake plumbing tasks as a requirement of the cleaning contract are all breaking the following laws and regulations:

  • Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
  • Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code
  • Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018
  • Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019

We still recommend to cleaners that they should protect themselves from potential infections and or fines and  refuse to break the law.

It is in everyones welfare to ensure that only licensed plumbers undertake all servicing on any urinal whether it be water flushing or waterless.