Understanding AS2896-2021 and Changing Legal Requirements

Dec 11, 2023

Medical Gases in NSW and Understanding the Recent Legislation Changes

You may already be aware but AS2896-2021 is an important standard for all medical practices who have medical gases to be aware of as not only is it important for patient and practice safety, but it has also come into NSW legislation as of October 2022.  This standard dictates the requirements for every medical gas pipeline system (MGPS), including how they should be installed and maintained.

What is a medical gas pipeline system?

Section 1.4.29 of AS2896-2021 defines ‘Medical Gas Pipeline System’ as a ‘Central supply of medical gases with control equipment and a distribution pipeline linking the source of supply to the terminal units.’  Effectively this means that any inbuilt infrastructure that allows for the supply, distribution or control of medical gas forms a part of a MGPS.

diagram with red and blue box


What equipment is covered under this definition?

The equipment categorised as part of a MGPS includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gas Manifolds
  • Suction Systems
  • Gas Outlets
  • Gas Piping
  • Gas Alarm Systems
  • Isolation Valves
  • Cryogenic Systems
  • Medical Air Compressors

Accessories and devices attached to or independent of a MGPS are not covered under this standard.  For example, cylinders on a portable trolley that do not connect to a gas wall outlet would not be covered under AS2896-2021. Similarly, the flowmeter attached to a gas outlet is not covered however the gas outlet itself and the gas supply system connected to this is included.

What key information do I need to know about the changes in legislation?

  • From 1 October 2022, you must be licensed to install or work on medical gas systems in NSW.
  • The healthcare facility manager is responsible for compliance of the MGPS.
  • Medical gas technicians and fitters must complete a Certificate of Compliance for every medical gas job performed in NSW.
  • You need to be licensed to do any medical gas work in NSW, regardless of the cost of the work or whether the work is residential, commercial or industrial.
  • An individual cannot do both medical gasfitting work and commission work on the same medical gas installation.
  • The governing law for these changes is the ‘Home Building Act 1989’.

What if I used an unlicensed technician to maintain all or part of my MGPS?

All medical gas work in NSW must be completed by licensed organisations and technicians, and there are no exceptions for this.  If you have work carried out by an unlicensed technician then you may be held responsible by regulatory bodies.  This applies even if you only have them work on one section of your MGPS.  For example, if you have a licensed medical gasfitter maintain your manifold, but unlicensed technicians conduct your annual outlet testing then you may be held responsible for the non-compliance of your MGPS.

How do I check to see if my service provider is licensed?

There are different licence classes for medical gas work which cover the scope of works a service provider is allowed to offer.

Medical Gasfitting: Medical gasfitting is the construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration, maintenance, testing or commissioning of a medical gas installation and includes incidental design work.

Medical Gas Technician: Medical gas technician work is the commissioning, testing, verification or certification of a medical gas installation.

Please note that individuals who are listed as a tradesperson are not allowed to sign off on medical gas work and must be overseen and signed off by someone holding a contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate.

To verify a technician or company’s medical gas licensing, you are able to search their licence details on the following link – www.verify.licence.nsw.gov.au/home/trades

What if my MGPS does not comply with AS2896-2021?

If your MGPS does not have the safety features required as per AS2896-2021, then the healthcare facility manager may be held responsible by regulatory bodies.  Common examples of non-compliance with this standard include the lack of a changeover manifold and alarm panels that are not capable of displaying all required alarms.  If you believe your MGPS is not compliant with this standard then you should have a licensed medical gasfitter undertake the necessary works to bring you into compliance.  This can involve either upgrading or decommissioning the MGPS, depending on the individual practice’s preference.

This information has been provided as an informational summary from the relevant resources available. Please ensure you conduct your own research from the relevant governing bodies where necessary.

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References
– https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1989-147#sec.33F
– https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/trades-and-businesses/licensing-and-qualifications/medical-gas-licensing
– https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/trades-and-businesses/construction-and-trade-essentials/medical-gas-technicians-and-fitters#compliance

AS2896-2021 – Medical gas systems — Installation and testing of non-flammable medical gas pipeline systems