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Clarifying wrong impressions

By Barney Richardson

There is often the mistaken impression that SARACCA is the authority providing the registration certification for authorised refrigerant gas practitioners.

The fact is that South African Qualification and Certification Committee (SAQCC Gas) is the registering authority on a mandate from the Department of Employment and Labour. This mandate is provided to SAQCC Gas and to the four associations that make up the certification committee.

SARACCA has the responsibility to request applications from prospective practitioners. SARACCA has then to verify the validity and accuracy of each application from the refrigeration perspective.

Pressure equipment regulations, in particular regulation 2, 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 50kPa, in terms of the relevant health and safety standard in the Regulations under section 44 of the Occupation Health and Safety Act.

In the definitions of the pressure equipment regulations, an ‘authorised person’ means an authorised refrigerant gas practitioner (in this case), who is registered as competent within the scope of work for which an organisation, SAQCC Gas, approved by the chief inspector has registered that person as;

  • a) SAQCC (CP) competent person for in-service inspection.
  • b) SAQCC (IPE) inspector of pressurised equipment.
  • c) SAQCC (Gas) registered gas practitioner in the applicable field.
  • d) SAQCC (Fire) registered fire technician.

SAQCC Gas has regular meetings with the chief inspector and the office of the directorate responsible for electrical and mechanical services. This consultation facilitates keeping up-to-date with requirements and follow-up on issues of noncompliance and concern.

It appears that many people in the industry; from practitioners, contractors and end users, are still not fully aware of the Occupational Health and Safety Act legislation and the responsibilities and obligations detailed by the pressure equipment regulations. The implications of not complying with the pressure equipment regulations and registration requirements has consequences to the user and the installer should there be a follow-up by the now Department of Employment and Labour inspectors.

There is the added complication of not being able to issue a valid Certificate of Conformity which is clearly specified in Regulation 17.

Regulation number 17 states that NO person shall:

  • Handle, store or distribute any gas in any manner, which includes the filling of a container, other than in accordance with the relevant health and safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act;
  • Install or remove an appliance, pressure equipment or system for gas in any manner other than in accordance with the relevant safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act;
  • Install or remove a gas appliance, or a gas system or a gas reticulation system, unless such person is an authorised person; or
  • Use pressure equipment or systems for gas in any manner other than in accordance with the relevant safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act.

From the above it can be seen that SAQCC Gas is the registering authority, with SARACCA providing an administrative back-up function.