PRESS RELEASE | 16 November 2011
An Auckland drainlayer has been struck off the register of drainlayers.
The Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) has found Vijendra Kumar Sharma obtained limited certificates for three men in return for cash payments totalling $5,300.
In doing so, the Board found that Mr Sharma forged the signature of certifying plumber, gasfitter and drainlayer Mr Scott Gibbons on the limited certificates without Mr Gibbons’ knowledge.
Mr Sharma then filed the limited certificate applications with the PGDB, knowing the three men were not entitled to work as plumbers or drainlayers as they would be unsupervised.
The Board also found that Mr Sharma fraudulently obtained a limited certificate to carry out gasfitting under the supervision of Mr Gibbons without his knowledge or consent.
At the time of the offending, Mr Sharma was drainage inspector for the former North Shore City Council, but was transferred to Watercare Services when the new Auckland Council was established.
The Board found that Mr Sharma used his position as an employee for the Council to access Council records and obtain the signature of Mr Gibbons, an approved certifier with the
Council. Mr Sharma then copied this signature onto the limited certificate applications without Mr Gibbons’ knowledge.
Mr Sharma led the three men to believe he had the power to obtain limited certificates for them and to arrange supervision under Mr Gibbons. Mr Sharma met the three men in the course of carrying out inspections for the Council.
An investigation was launched following a complaint by Mr Gibbons to the Board in September 2009 after he discovered an application for a limited certificate by one of the men had been made, nominating Mr Gibbons as the registered certifier without his knowledge.
The former non-apprentice limited certificate meant holders had to work under the supervision and in the presence of a registered person at all times.
In its judgment released today, the Board said: “Mr Sharma is a registered person who is aware of the requirement of the licensing and registration regime, which is in place for the purposes of protecting the health and safety of the public.
“Through Mr Sharma’s actions, public health and safety was potentially compromised. The Board is very disappointed by the nature of Mr Sharma’s offending.
“Mr Sharma, having arranged the issuing of the limited certificates for others, then decided to himself uplift a limited certificate in plumbing and gasfitting when he was operating under no form of supervision with no checks in place to ensure the work was compliant or safe.
“This exposed the consumer and himself to what could potentially have been very serious health and safety risks.
“The Board finds the falsification of the limited certificate applications made on behalf of himself and others to be reprehensible.
“Mr Sharma was in a position of trust which required a high standard of integrity from him in carrying out his duties as a drainage inspector for the North Shore City Council.
“Mr Sharma used his position for personal gain, receiving cash payments from Messrs Liang, Ye, and Chan with resulting liability for Mr Gibbons with regard to his reputation. The Board finds this to be a serious breach of the ethical behaviour expected of a registered person, particularly one in a position of power and authority as Mr Sharma was.”
As well as being struck off the drainlayers’ register, Mr Sharma was ordered to pay $20,000 in costs.
PRESS RELEASE | 8 November 2011
A Levin tradesman has been convicted for a second time on plumbing and gasfitting offences.
Mark Huyton of Levin, pleaded guilty to carrying out plumbing and gasfitting work at a home in Cambridge Street, Levin, despite not being registered or licensed under the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006.
The work in October 2010, which cost the homeowner $5,281.55, included the installation of a continuous flow gas water heater and gas pipework from the gas meter to the continuous flow water heater. He also installed a new hot water cylinder and basin and fixed water pipes to the basin.
The gas pipework did not comply with the Gas Installation Standard and led to a gas leak near the gas meter, which was discovered by a GasCo engineer when the meter was tested in February 2011.
This type of installation had the potential to cause a serious health and safety incident as well as significant damage to that property, and adjoining properties as well.
Mr Huyton was fined $7,750, the highest fine yet imposed since the maximum fine was increased to $50,000 in 2010.
He was also convicted and fined $750 for carrying sanitary plumbing work when he was not authorised to do so. However, the Levin District Court commuted the fines to 150 hours community work after finding Mr Huyton was unable to pay the fine.
Kern U’ren, Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board Deputy Registrar, said it was disappointing Mr Huyton had offended for a second time.
“An explosion could have occurred if there was an ignition near to the gas leak. It is a concern that Mr Huyton has once again defied the law and illegally carried out plumbing and gasfitting work. I hope this time Mr Huyton recognises how seriously the Board treats this nature of offending.
“Anyone involved in carrying out sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying is required to carry a current authorisation card. This provides consumers with an assurance that the work is being legally carried out by an authorised and competent tradesperson. We urge consumers to ask tradespeople for their authorisation card before the tradesman commences work at their property.
“If a homeowner or building inspector believes work has been done by someone who is not authorised, or has concerns about the competency of tradespeople, they can make a complaint to the PGDB.”
In June, Mr Huyton was fined $4,500 at the Levin District Court after pleading guilty to three charges of advertising in a manner that would make the public believe he was authorised to undertake the work.
Mr Huyton was sentenced in the Levin District Court on 26 October.
PRESS RELEASE | 7 November 2011
A Nelson plumber and gasfitter found guilty of professional shortcomings and unacceptable conduct has been ordered to undergo a course of training in a penalty decision issued by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) today.
The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board found that Paul Gee breached the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act (1976) when he carried out gasfitting work on a house in Malvern Avenue, Nelson.
Due to Mr Gee’s personal and financial circumstances, the Board decided not to ask Mr Gee to pay a fine or contribute to the costs of the hearing.
Alan Bickers, chair of the PGDB, said:
“The Board takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously and the primary purpose of discipline is rehabilitative, not punitive.
“Discipline is an opportunity to identify and, where possible, promote the competence of registered tradesmen by identifying conduct which falls below the standard expected of a registered person.
“The Board was concerned by Mr Gee’s apparent lack of knowledge and appreciation of the applicable regulatory provisions for gasfitting, which exist to ensure the health and safety of the New Zealand public.
“While the Board understands that the disciplinary process can be stressful for parties, Mr Gee’s evidence at the hearing raised serious concerns about his understanding of some fundamental aspects of the gasfitting trade.”
In July, the PGDB decided the case against Mr Gee in relation to work carried out on six other properties in the Tasman Bay and Westport areas was not established.
The Department of Labour laid a complaint with the PGDB about the matter and the PGDB undertook its own investigation. As a consequence, a further six properties were also identified as potentially posing a risk to the health and safety of the public.