By Grant Laidlaw
To address this, we must refer to the requirements as laid out in SANS 10147 as well as SAQCC gas requirements.
Dawie asks: Grant, could you assist on two issues, firstly what is the competency level requirement for air conditioning and refrigeration technicians, and secondly how does this align with the registration of authorised refrigeration personnel? Thanks.
Hi Dawie, these aforementioned aspects must also remember SANS standards, the OHS act, and pressure vessel regulation that all represent legal requirements.
With regards to staff competence as per SANS10147:
All personnel involved in the operation and maintenance of refrigeration installations shall have been trained on the functioning of the installation to ensure that they are fully conversant with the equipment concerned.
In the case of a refrigeration plant erected on site, the personnel that are to be involved in the operation and maintenance shall be present during the erection, testing, charging of refrigerant, and adjustment of the plant. Personnel who, in the course of their duties, have to enter refrigerated spaces, shall be trained in the use of all safety devices, procedures and health hazards and shall be qualified at the appropriate level of competency.
Control and safety devices that shall not be operated by unauthorised persons, shall be safeguarded against deliberate or accidental actuation.
The operation and maintenance of existing refrigeration plants shall comply with the requirements given, and any conversions or modifications to such plants shall be carried out by a level B or C competent person.
Dawe, when considering the alignment of a SAQCC authorised gas practitioner registration through SARACCA and SANS, we find descriptions with regards to the categories A, B and C as follows:
(See the SARACCA website for full details on this)
Refrigeration plant operator: “The card holder is authorised to operate a refrigeration plant and is aware of safety regulations and requirements.”
A1. Refrigeration plant operator
A2. Domestic and light commercial refrigeration practitioner
A3. Refrigeration installer/fitter
A4. Unitary air conditioning unit installer
A5. Air conditioning and refrigeration apprentice/learner
Refrigeration mechanics doing installation, repairs and maintenance in a wide variety of refrigeration and air conditioning systems using Group A1, A2 & A3 refrigerants can apply in this category. Generally they must have completed an apprenticeship in refrigeration or electrical trades and are registered as artisans.
B6. Air conditioning and refrigeration practitioner
B7. Carbon dioxide refrigeration practitioner
B8. Ammonia refrigeration practitioner
B9. Car air conditioning practitioner
B10. Refrigerated transport practitioner
B11. Marine refrigeration practitioner
Practitioner: “The card holder is an authorised Inspector of refrigeration installations.” This registration is for those who by experience and training are well versed in all applications of industrial and commercial refrigeration who can work within their training, experience and competence. Previous registration as a refrigeration mechanic is a requirement plus an assessment in the inspection of refrigeration plants as per Unit Standard 262159 and knowledge of SANS10147, SANS347, the OHS Act and Regulations.
C12. Inspector – Refrigeration installations
C13. Inspector – Refrigeration associated with air conditioning
C14. Designer – Refrigeration and air conditioning – The card holder is an authorised designer of refrigeration and air conditioning installations. This category is aimed at those who design refrigeration systems and refrigeration related to air conditioning at different levels. A technical / engineering diploma or degree is a requirement.
Dawie, when referring to SANS 10147 we find:
- Competence training
Training of persons to achieve competence in safety aspects of refrigerating systems and components, environmental and energy conservation requirements shall be governed by national schemes.
Where required by legislation or because industry considers it desirable, a certification scheme shall be implemented. This clause suggests methods by which a certification scheme will be achieved. These will be used if there are no other legislation or industry requirements.
- Category of competent persons
As with the SAQCC categories we find here are three categories of competence levels, depending on the duties to be performed in SANS10147:
a. level A: Operation personnel;
b. level B: installation personnel and repair personnel;
c. level C: designers, commissioning personnel and inspectors.
Over and above the categories, SANS 10147 specifically states that persons working with refrigerants in Categories A3 and B3 must have received specialised training in the use thereof.
The SANS 10147 standard is inclusive of but exceeds the SAQCC gas safe handling of authorised refrigeration practitioner training. However, the SAQCC gas registration processes are inclusive of the SANS standard requirements as follows:
- Level A
A person with competence in level A (that complies with the minimum relevant national requirement) shall be able to operate a refrigerating system safely with due regard to environmental requirements and energy efficiency without breaking into the refrigerant circuit.
The minimum requirements for theoretical knowledge and practical experience for level A shall be as follows:
- Knowledge of basic health and safety requirements.
- Legislation: Basic knowledge of the relevant national legislation and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
- National standards. Basic knowledge of this standard (with particular clauses)
- Basic knowledge and skills concerning:
- The handling of refrigerants (knowledge only),
- personal protective equipment (how to use it),
- leakage prevention of refrigerants (measures to prevent leakage),
- the refrigerating process,
- refrigeration components and equipment,
- electrical and control functions,
- piping and instrumentation diagrams (P and ID),
- refrigerating systems, and
- energy conservation (measures applied for energy efficiency).
- Practical experience, for example in plant installation, operation and maintenance.
- Level B
A person with competence in level B (that complies with the minimum relevant national requirement (see foreword) shall:
- Understand and be able to apply given specifications and piping and instrumentation diagrams;
- understand and be able to apply requirements in this standard that concern health, safety, environmental protection and energy efficiency; and
- understand and be able to apply, in a practical manner, safety measures for different refrigerants.
The minimum requirements for theoretical knowledge and practical experience for level B shall be as follows:
- Knowledge of health and safety requirements.
- Legislation: Detailed knowledge of the relevant national legislation (see foreword), and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
- National standards. Detailed knowledge of this standard (with particular clauses)
* Knowledge required of the text but no requirement for carrying out calculations. (Items 1 to 11 In level A)
- Practical experience, for example in plant installation, operation, maintenance and repair for a period of at least three years.
- Level C
A person with competence in level C (that complies with the minimum relevant national requirement) shall:
- be competent to ensure that a refrigerating system complies with the requirements of this standard that concern health, safety, environmental protection and energy efficiency;
- have specialised and in-depth knowledge of legislation and regulations relating to refrigerating systems and heat pumps;
- be able to design systems, develop and check piping and instrumentation diagrams, instructions, manuals, etc.; and
- be able to give instructions concerning safety measures and procedures for the used refrigerants, etc.
The minimum requirements for theoretical knowledge and practical experience for level C shall be as follows:
- Knowledge of health and safety requirements.
- Legislation: Specialised and in-depth knowledge of the relevant national legislation (see foreword), and the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
- National standards. Specialised and in-depth knowledge of this standard.
- Specialised and in-depth knowledge and skills concerning: items 1 to 11 In level A.
- Technical experience, for example in design, construction, installation, operation, maintenance and repair.
Assessment of competence
All persons who demonstrate their practical and theoretical competence by being successfully assessed by an approved organisation shall receive a certificate of competence and be registered with the relevant national body.
The certification of competence shall be as required by the relevant national body. The theoretical and practical assessment shall cover all the parts of the respective training programme.
|NOTE: Some aspects of a person’s competence will need to be reassessed on a regular basis.|
Maintenance of competence
Persons shall maintain their competence, as appropriate, for example by the study of relevant literature, and doing practical work. i.e; renewal of authorised refrigeration practitioner registration.
Dawie, I hope that this helps with your understanding of the minimum requirements and the alignment between the pressure vessel regulation and SANS.
To sum up:
- Level / category A: Assistants, operators, learners, apprentices and semi skilled workers fall into this category. With exception of A2 and A4, certificates of conformance cannot be issued.
- Level / category B: In general trade tested artisans/technicians with the relevant experience is required. Can issue Certificates of Conformance.
- Level / category C inspector: Previous registration as a refrigeration mechanic is a requirement plus an assessment in the inspection of refrigeration plant as per Unit Standard 262159, plus knowledge of SANS10147, SANS347 and the OHS Act and Regulations.
- Level / category C designer: This category is aimed at those who design refrigeration systems and refrigeration related to air conditioning at different levels. A technical/engineering diploma or degree is a requirement.
- SANS 10147 – 2014
- Pressure Equipment Regulations – 01 October 2009
- Occupational Health and Safety Act Number 85 of 1993. Revision 1 – 2015 and Revision 2 November 2017.
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About Grant Laidlaw
Grant Laidlaw is currently the owner of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy (ACRA) in Edenvale. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and an associate degree in educational administration. He has a National Technical Diploma and completed an apprenticeship with Transnet. He has dual-trades status: refrigeration and electrical. He has been involved with SAIRAC for over two decades and served on the Johannesburg committee as chairman and was also president between 2015 and 2018. Currently he is the SAIRAC national treasurer.