New APHC president John Breakell has vowed to tackle the "unsustainable" problem of industry fragmentation, red tape and over-assessment.

Breakell has vowed to use his year as president to raise and tackle these issues with government.

“Many of my plumbing and heating colleagues despair at the ongoing fragmentation of our industry into ‘specialist areas’ of work," he said.

"We have allowed a plethora of individual regulations and standards to be formulated, covering extremely narrow work areas, despite the fact that we are invariably dealing with the single subject of piped fluid services.

“Those regulations and standards increasingly have separate and distinct training and qualification requirements. There can be no denying the need to cover the scope of all these works for new entrants to our industry; however, the continued repetition of assessment in these areas in five-yearly exams has become completely unsustainable.

“APHC’s chief executive officer, John Thompson, recently demonstrated that an experienced plumbing and heating operative who wished to operate in the domestic sector across the normal range of piped services – including oil, gas and renewables – could be faced with around 34 individual reassessment activities on a rolling five-yearly cycle.

“Put these experienced worker qualification requirements alongside the red-tape facing anyone operating a business and we find our small business people, the backbone of our industry, facing a completely overwhelming challenge. Coupled with this is a lack of proper enforcement of the regulations, creating a completely unlevel playing field for the compliant contractor.

“Much could be addressed by looking at examples of how regulations and standards are put together in sister industries such as electrotechnical, where many of the requirements are consolidated into a single set of regulations and standards. Now is the time to act.”