Martin Flaherty, board member and past–president of the Pennsylvania Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PA-PHCC), spoke Aug. 1 at a joint public hearing of the Pennsylvania House Labor Relations and Professional Licensure Committees on licensure of construction trades and consumer protection at the William Pitt Building, Pittsburgh University.

Flaherty’s testimony focused primarily on the need for a statewide plumbing licensure act to necessitate a standard for a strict educational process and on-going training to insure knowledge of code proficiency in performing plumbing work for protecting the health and safety of the consumer. Pennsylvania is one of only a dozen states that do not have a statewide procedure for the licensing of plumbers.

States vary greatly on the expectations of the plumbing contractors who perform work within their borders, he also noted, and states with a history of natural disasters and those with a high rate of population growth have a tendency to recognize the need for plumbing licensing and continuing education.

Those arguing in favor of licensing cite public safety, consumer health, quality control and industry wide integrity as primary reasons to institute statewide licensing of plumbers. Those arguing against vilify the process as a barrier to free enterprise and a further imposition on the small-business person. 

Flaherty closed with an appeal to set forth regulations that protect the well-being and safety of the consumer while providing a fair environment for plumbing contractors to operate as professionals.

Also in attendance and representing the Associated Master Plumbers of Allegheny County was President Gary Kicinski and Plumbers Local 27 Business Manager Tom Bigley.