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The consultation on this discussion paper has been extended until 31 January 2020 to incorporate an additional option for the phase out of open flued gas space heaters. On 23 December 2019 an addendum was added to the original discussion paper. The addendum outlines this new option, which is the development of a Victorian standard to be adopted in regulations, which will be considered alongside the existing options as part of the regulatory impact statement process that will take place in 2020.

If you have not already made a submission, you may wish to do so. If you have already made a submission you may wish to provide comments on the new option specifically, make amendments to your original submission, or decide not to provide further feedback.

If you have any queries, please email gas.safety@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Overview

Under certain circumstances, open flued gas space heaters pose a risk of releasing unhealthy and sometimes lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide into buildings. Malfunctioning, poorly or infrequently serviced open flued gas space heaters in residential settings have resulted in the deaths of three Victorians since 2010.

In August 2018, Coroner Hawkins handed down eight recommendations after conducting an inquiry into the tragic death of Mrs Sonia Sofianopoulos. The Coroner found that the death of Mrs Sofianopoulos was a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by “a confluence of events that proved to be fatal” and made eight recommendations with a key recommendation being that a plan and strategy is implemented to phase out all open flued gas space heaters in Victoria.

In its response to the Coroner's recommendations the Victorian Government supported this recommendation in principle and committed to consider the phase out of open flued gas space heaters through a regulatory impact statement process to be delivered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

Community safety is the Victorian Government’s first priority, and the regulatory impact statement process is now underway, expected to be completed by mid-2020.

Discussion paper

This discussion paper outlines potential phase out options for open flued gas space heaters, and potential complementary measures that could be implemented in addition to a chosen core option to reduce the risk posed by existing open flued gas space heater installations.

Your views are now being sought to help identify the best approach to mitigate risks of carbon monoxide poisoning from open flued gas space heaters.

Your feedback on the discussion paper will help to inform the development of the regulatory impact statement. This will not be your only opportunity to provide input into this process as there will also be comprehensive public consultation on the regulatory impact statement which will be released in 2020.

Submissions and queries

Please make your submission on the discussion paper by 31 January 2020. You can upload your submission via the web form below or email your submission to gas.safety@delwp.vic.gov.au.

For more information please see the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website or email gas.safety@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Read the discussion paper

Please note that this discussion paper was updated on 12 December 2019 to include manufacturing dates of the heaters affected by Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) safety alerts.
Discussion paper: options for addressing risks from open flued gas space heaters in Victoria
PDF (520.03 KB)
Discussion paper: options for addressing risks from open flued gas space heaters in Victoria
MS Word (2.35 MB)

Read the addendum to the discussion paper

On 23 December 2019 an addendum was added to the original discussion paper. This addendum includes a new option for consideration, which is the development of a Victorian standard to be adopted in regulations, and will be considered alongside the existing options in the discussion paper above.
Addendum to Discussion paper: options for addressing risks from open flued gas space heaters in Victoria
PDF (237.77 KB)
Addendum to Discussion paper: options for addressing risks from open flued gas space heaters in Victoria
MS Word (1.83 MB)

Discussion paper options summary

The discussion paper contains four options and two complementary measures for the phase out of open flued gas space heaters. Detailed information is available in the discussion paper, however a summary and questions for consideration can be found below.

Under this option the current set of Victorian regulations relevant to open flued gas space heaters and carbon monoxide poisoning would not be changed. Educational campaigns run by Energy Safe Victoria would continue to inform the public of the dangers associated with exposure to carbon monoxide and encourage servicing.

Please see pages 14-15 of the discussion paper for more information.

This option would ban the installation of open flued gas space heaters (OFGSHs) in households where they were not already installed. Installations of OFGSHs would continue to be permitted where they replace an existing OFGSH (a “like for like replacement”).

Please see pages 16-17 of the discussion paper for more information.

This option would ban all future open flued gas space heater installations in Victoria, both new and like for like replacement installations.

Please see pages 17-18 of the discussion paper for more information.

In this option, the Victorian Government would submit a project proposal to Standards Australia requesting an amendment to the gas appliance standards AS/NZS 5263.0 and AS/NZS 5263.1.3. The amendment would seek to enhance the safety requirements for open flued gas space heaters.

Please see pages 18-20 of the discussion paper for more information.

This option would introduce into Victorian regulations new minimum safety requirements that OFGSH models must meet in order to be certified for supply and installation in Victoria.

Please see the addendum for more information.

This measure would mandate the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all buildings where open flued gas space heaters are installed. This could be extended to include any type of gas space heater.

Please see pages 20-23 of the discussion paper for more information.

Note: These measures are intended to be complementary to the core options, to reduce any residual risks associated with existing installations.

This measure would mandate regular servicing of open flued gas space heaters (OFGSHs) and recommend potential changes to compliance certificate schemes. Importantly, mandatory servicing could be broadened to apply to any gas heater, not just OFGSHs.

Please see pages 23-24 of the discussion paper.

Note: These measures are intended to be complementary to the core options, to reduce any residual risks associated with existing installations.

Below is a summary of questions in the discussion paper. The questions provided are intended as a guide only. You do not need to respond to every question, nor comment on all issues discussed in the paper.


Issues

a) Do you think that there is a role for the Victorian Government to reduce the risks associated with CO poisoning from OFGSH use?

b) What are your views on the issues identified in this section as key risk drivers for OFGSHs?

c) Do you think there are other significant risk drivers for OFGSHs that have not been discussed here?


Extent of the problem

a) Are you aware of any additional sources of data to assist us to understand the extent of CO related incidents in Victoria, particularly sources which identify the cause of poisoning or severity of impacts?


The Base Case

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this option? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this option? Why or why not?

d) Do you have any other comments about this option?


Ban on new installations (excluding like for like replacements)

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this option? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this option? Why or why not?

d) Would you support the immediate implementation of a ban, if a ban on new installations is deemed the preferred option in the RIS? If not, over what timeframe would you prefer to see a ban implemented?

e) Do you support the continuation of like for like replacements? Are there any building types where you think like for like replacements should not be allowed (e.g. schools, rentals, aged care facilities, etc)?

f) If this option was the preferred option in the RIS, are there any measures the government should consider to support industry transition?

g) Do you have any other comments about this option?


Ban on all installations

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this option? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this option? Why or why not?

d) Would you support the immediate implementation of a ban, if a ban on all installations is deemed the preferred option of the RIS? If not, over what timeframe would you prefer to see a ban implemented and why?

e) Would you support a ban on future installations in all building types, if a ban on all installations is deemed the preferred option of the RIS? If not, which building types (e.g. schools, rentals, aged care facilities, etc) would you like to see a ban confined to?

f) If this option was the preferred option in the RIS, are there any measures the government should consider to support industry transition?

g) Do you have any other comments about this option?


Phase out through standards based approach

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this option? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this option? Why or why not?

d) If this option was the preferred option in the RIS, how long do you think industry should have to transition to a new standard and why?

e) If this option was the preferred option in the RIS, are there any measures the government should consider to support industry transition?

f) Do you have any other comments about this option?


Summary Questions: Core Options

a) Which option(s) would you support? If you do not support any option, is there some alternative option that you believe should be considered?

b) Do you have any other comments about the core options outlined in this discussion paper?


Mandatory installation of CO alarms

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this measure? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b)What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this measure? Why or why not?

d) Would you support mandatory installation of CO alarms in all buildings with an OFGSH? If not, in which building types (e.g. rentals, new buildings, hotels etc) do you think should be required to install a CO alarm?

e) Which international CO alarm standard do you think should be applied and recommended for use in Victoria?

f) If the installation of CO alarms under certain conditions were to be mandated, would you prefer alarms to be hard-wired, battery powered or a mixture of the two?

g) Are there any measures the Victorian Government should consider to support consumers to improve uptake of CO alarms?

h) Do you have any other comments on CO alarms?


Mandatory servicing requirements

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this measure? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you suggest to assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this measure? Why or why not?

d) In your view, is the current recommendation to service gas heaters every two years appropriate? Why or why not?

e) Should servicing be: (a) mandatory; or (b) incentivised through increased public awareness?

f) In which building types (e.g. rentals, aged care facilities, owner-occupied homes, etc) do you think servicing should be mandatory?

g) Are there any measures the Victorian Government should consider to support consumers to get their heaters serviced?

h) Do you have any other comments on servicing requirements?


Summary questions: Complementary measures

a) Do you think complementary measures are necessary? Why or why not?

b) Do you think these complementary measures should be mandated, or incentivised through other mechanisms, such as increased public awareness?

c) Do you think the anticipated impacts of each complementary measure, including their risks and limitations, have been captured in this discussion paper?

d) Would you like to make any other comments about the complementary measures outlined in this discussion paper?


Options and measures analysis

a) Which core option and complementary measures do you think will be most effective in reducing the risks of CO poisoning as a result of OFGSH use?

b) Are there any impacts, including any risks or limitations or benefits or implementation considerations, associated with the core options and complementary measures that have not been captured by the discussion paper?

c) Are there additional options or complementary measures that would be effective in reducing the risks of CO poisoning as a result of OFGSH use that we have not identified in this discussion paper?


Addendum

Victorian safety requirements

a) What do you identify as being the key risks and benefits of this option? Do you think they have been captured in this discussion paper?

b) What information or evidence can you provide that might assist in quantifying these risks and benefits?

c) Would you support this option? Why or why not?

d) Would you support the immediate implementation of improved Victorian standards, if this is deemed the preferred option of the RIS? If not, over what timeframe would you prefer to see improved Victorian standards implemented and why?

e) If this option was the preferred option in the RIS, are there any measures the Victorian Government should consider to support industry transition?

f) Do you have any other comments about this option?

Submissions

In this section you can either submit a formal response to the discussion paper by uploading a document, or you can provide a short answer response directly into the free-text box. Submissions can also be made by emailing gas.safety@delwp.vic.gov.au.
I am making this submission: Required

Privacy statement

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is committed to protecting personal information provided by you in accordance with the principles of the Victorian privacy laws.

The information you provide will assist DELWP in its preparation of a regulatory impact statement (RIS). All submissions will be treated as public documents and may be published online and/or referenced in further policy development or public documents such as the RIS. The information you provide may also be used to contact you should we need to clarify your submission or provide you with project updates.

If you do not wish to be identified, please ensure there is no information in your submission that could identify you or other individuals. De-identified submissions may be used by DELWP, or its contracted service providers under confidentiality agreements, for preparation of the regulatory impact statement.

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