Responsible Refrigeration Article 49

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Article authored by our Director, Barney Richardson:

The registering of air conditioning and refrigeration installers and artisans is a process managed by SARACCA and SAQCC Gas. To date only approximately 2400 practitioners have been registered out of an estimated 6000 to 7000 people working in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. I addition there are a large number who were registered and who have failed to renew their registration. Some say they are never asked to show their cards so why be registered? These are people who are directly working on the pressure portion of the refrigeration circuit and have an influence on the safety of the installation. It is the responsibility of the registered practitioner to show their card without being asked. The regulations refer to an authorised person, this means a practitioner who is registered as competent within the scope of refrigeration work for which SAQCC Gas is approved and mandated by the Chief Inspector of Labour to register that person The practitioner must inform the client, with pride, that he is aware of the regulations and that he is competent to do the work.

Pressure Equipment Regulation 2; specifically states that the regulations shall apply to the design, manufacture, operation, repair, modification, maintenance, inspection and testing of pressure equipment with a design pressure equal to or greater than 50 kPa, in terms of the relevant health and safety standard in the Regulations under section 44 of the OH & S Act. The numbers of active registered persons are pathetically small considering that registration has been in force since 2009. 

SAQCC Gas has the mandate that requires that persons who work on air conditioning or refrigeration or fuel gas or compressed gas systems and who are not formally registered with SAQCC Gas are not complying with the OHS Act and Pressure Equipment Regulations and could be legally challenged by law. Non registered persons working on gas systems raise serious concerns for users, clients and for themselves from a legal, financial and insurance perspective.

If you are a user of gas or a gas system or air conditioning and /or refrigeration system you need to ensure that only an authorised card carrying gas practitioner is working on your installation and that should this not be the case, report this practitioner and contractor to the SAQCC Gas for further action. The cards issued by SAQCC Gas to Practitioners are classified by the area competence and gas type as follows;

  • Authorised Refrigeration Gas Practitioner as an installer or as an artisan
  • Authorised Natural Gas Practitioner for domestic, commercial or industrial systems
  • Authorised Compressed Gas Practitioner for the specific gas being used
  • Authorised Liquid Petroleum Gas Practitioner for domestic, commercial or industrial systems

As stated above there are two particular categories of competence for those persons working on installation and/or maintenance of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. These are divided into those who might be termed as semi-skilled installers who do not yet have a trade qualification and those who are artisans by qualification of a trade test and experience who have done the safe handling of refrigerants course and are registered.

It is a requirement that a Certificate of Conformity and many contractors and installers are finding that the end users are asking for a CoC. There have been a number of installations which have been found to be badly installed and the client/user cannot get satisfaction because the installer was not registered and there was no way of taking action against the person except to report the transgression to the Department of Labour for the investigation and legal action. 

It is in everyone’s interest to become competent and compliant with registration and to offer a quality service through being registered as an authorised refrigeration gas practitioner in terms of the Pressure Equipment Regulations.

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