By Barney Richardson, director of SARACCA

To be a responsible person in refrigeration and air conditioning one has to be registered with SAQCC Gas as an installer and/or artisan.

To date, some 3 326 practitioners have been registered to work in the refrigeration associated with air conditioning and the refrigeration industries. These are the people who are directly working on the pressure portion of the refrigeration circuit and components that have an influence on the safety of the installation. The numbers are small considering that registration has been in force since 2009.

With the recently introduced online app for the issue of Certificates of Conformity (CoC), there are only 746 signed up. It must be pointed out that CoC books are no longer available. There are an increasing number of installations that are not done by competent and registered persons and thus cannot be issued with a CoC. The Pressure Equipment Regulations, in particular regulation 17, specifically require that a CoC be issued after installation or maintenance or repair.

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 Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

The regulations refer to an authorised person, this means a practitioner who is registered as competent after undertaking the safe handling of refrigerants training within the scope of refrigeration work for which SAQCC Gas is approved and mandated by the chief inspector to register that person.

A communique from SAQCC Gas states 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 OHSA and Pressure Equipment Regulations and shall be legally challengeable 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 a consumer is a user of gas or a gas system – or more specifically an air conditioning or refrigeration system – such a person needs to ensure that only an authorised card-carrying gas practitioner is working on their 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 area competence and gas type as follows;

  • Authorised Refrigeration Gas Practitioner
  • Authorised Natural Gas Practitioner
  • Authorised Compressed Gas Practitioner
  • Authorised Liquid Petroleum Gas Practitioner

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 or apprentices who do not yet have a trade qualification and those who are artisans by qualification of a trade test and experience.

It is a requirement that a CoC be issued for work done and many contractors and installers are finding that their clients and end users are asking for a CoC. There have been several installations which have been found to be poorly installed and faulty, which means the client/user cannot get satisfaction because the installer was not registered and there was no way of acting against the person except to report the transgression to the Department of Employment and Labour for investigation and legal action. It is also time that the unit manufacturers and suppliers take some responsibility for the quality of installations and reduce the amount of comeback calls and claims failure.

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

Barney Richardson

About the author

Barney Richardson is the director of South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA) and sits on various other boards within the HVAC industry, including the South African Qualifications and Certifications Committee for Gas (SAQCC) Gas.

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