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Responsible Refrigeration Article 61

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Article authored by our Director, Barney Richardson

Renewal of registration.

The requirement in the Pressure Equipment Regulations that only authorised persons who are registered with SAQCC Gas may work on systems under pressure is very real and a legal requirement in the OHS Act. Based on the latest registration numbers the progress in new registrations has been quite good and encouraging.  But!  The renewal of registrations over the months of February 2019 to March 2020 has been slow and is disappointing. At the end of February there are 405 expired registrations. In the same period there were 535 new first time registrations and only 337 renewals.

Some practitioners use the excuse that they are never asked to show their registration card so why should they bother to do the training and be assessed as competent and to maintain their registration. That is not the point. The reason for registration is to show your client and the end user that you are competent and that the installation or maintenance you do is safe and can be operated with confidence. The client or user of an air conditioning or refrigeration system does not need to ask for a practitioner’s card, the card holder should show his card with pride and give the client confidence in your work and that of the installation, repair or maintenance being carried out.  The motivation of the Pressure Equipment Regulations is to ensure that systems under pressure are installed and maintained by competent persons and no safety issues can occur. The motivation should be that the registered person be it a Category ‘A’ installer or a Category ‘B’ artisan be proud that they are qualified and can work legally on refrigeration equipment.

The training for a first time practitioner is not onerous being less than a week and only 2 days for the refresher course. The curriculum and course material and accreditation of training providers is being reviewed and up graded to ensure a level standard of training across the country from all recognised providers.

The phase-out of HCFC’s is progressing ahead of the scheduled plan from the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries. The refrigerants in commercial use are slowly switching to HFC’s namely R404 and R507 which if plans are promulgated will also face phase-out in the years to come. In Europe R404 availability is decreasing with users and contractors being caught short and facing price increases. The refrigerant of choice at present for air conditioners is R410a which is also facing changes.  We have seen move to R32 by some manufacturers and suggestion that R290 will be the next refrigerant of choice.

With the change in refrigerant use and design of air conditioners and self-contained refrigeration units it make good sense that practitioners do refresher course and renew their registration as and when this become necessary. With the changes and the adoption of natural refrigerants that practitioners keep up to date with developments.

Training providers are setting themselves up for training in the Hydro Carbon refrigerants where special care is required to work with flammable refrigerants. There is an initiative by the Western Cape Provincial Government to concentrate on R290 as a refrigerant in conjunction with GIZ and the Bavarian state. A facility is in the planning stage to carry out this skill training with the various parties including SAIRAC and SARACCA

Contact Barney Richardson by clicking here