On 1 August 2021, the new obligations regarding life support came into effect. These obligations were made pursuant to a rule change published by the AEMC in February 2021. The aim of the new rules is to clarify the responsibilities between retailers and distributors to ensure the accuracy of life support registers.
The AER has now published an 11 page guide (the Guide), which although has no legal force, provides information on the following areas:
- the customer registration process;
- the deregistration of life support customers;
- the obligation to share information; and
- the obligation to keep and maintain a register and record of life support requirements.
The Guide provides a breakdown of the life support registration process which is split into: (i) customer notification, (ii) medical confirmation, (iii) deregistration, (iv) information sharing and record keeping. The AER states the expectation is to register a customer as soon as a retailer or distributor becomes aware that the customer that could fall within the definition. The approach means that employees who may not have had relevant training, will have to form a view as to whether the equipment constitutes life support equipment. It is noted that the definition of life support equipment includes a category of ‘other’ which may include the following:
- external heart pumps;
- respirators (Iron lung);
- suction pumps (respiratory or gastric);
- feeding pumps (kangaroo pump, or total parenteral nutrition);
- insulin pumps;
- airbed vibrator;
- hot water;
- nebulizer, humidifiers or vaporizers;
- apnoea monitors;
- medically required heating or air conditioning;
- medically required refrigeration; or
- powered wheelchair.
The Guide further provides an easy to digest breakdown of the rules around reminder processes that retailers must comply with. In summary, the reminder process provides that starting from the day a retailer or distributor is advised that the life support equipment may be required, they have:
- 5 days – to provide customer with life support information package;
- 50 days (from information package) – for customer to complete medical confirmation form;
- 25 days (additional) – if a customer requests extension to complete medical form;
- 15 days (from info package) – to provide customer with a first reminder notice to complete medical confirmation;
- 15 days (from first reminder notice) – to provide customer with a second reminder notice to complete medical confirmation.
We note, however, that this is just a short breakdown of the process, and it is crucial to train relevant staff in this area. This is something we can assist with, and please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further information in this regard.
Under the National Energy Retail Rules, it may be permitted to deregister premises where the customer has not provided medical confirmation if the reminder process above has been complied with and additional de-registration notices have been issued. The AER points out that retailers and distributors should consider the individual risk and circumstances of a customer before contemplating deregistration. Further, the Guide notes that retailers should include additional checks and balances in their deregistration process to ensure compliance with all requirements.
Lastly, the Guide provides instructions on how to maintain a register and records and stresses the importance of keeping the information up to date.
The guide can be found here and we are here to help if you have any questions regarding your life support compliance program.