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SARACCA: New national safe handling training

Held at the end of May 2021 through a virtual engagement, all regions participated in the South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association branch meeting.

The virtual engagement was run by executive director, Barney Richardson. All participating members were greeted and welcomed by president Hennie Basson, who gave opportunity to the regional chairmen to welcome all of the participating members from their area. These were Tony Moodley – KZN, Jacques Claassen – WC, and David Botha – Gauteng.

Members were presented the updated goals and marketing strategy by the appointed agency Hot Mustard, who showed various statistics and proposed path for the association’s marketing. The main objective being to grow membership numbers by securing the body’s recognition in all relevant sectors through the dissemination of content through and a wider range of platforms – including partnering with other relevant publishers in other engineering and electrical sectors, the better use of social media platforms and the associations website where more engagement has been implemented for member leads coming through this channel.

Grant Laidlaw, then presented the new safe handling of refrigerants training that will be universally rolled out to SARACCA, SAQCC Gas recognised training providers and the industry. A standard programme will be implemented throughout the country. Essentially this means that all recognised and QCTO accredited training providers will run the same course-material. Laidlaw noted the fact that the project that had been undertaken was ultimately an achievement of more than two years’ work and that substantial interest had already been raised from cross border parties.

This new training programme was developed through participation by SARACCA, SAQCC Gas, QCTO, DFFE and UNIDO. Laidlaw highlighted the important role of SARACCA as the appointed “mandated entity responsible for verification and registration of competent persons” working with refrigerant gases in the context of Pressure Equipment Regulations and the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, to which South Africa is a signatory.

Laidlaw continued to highlight how credits and notational hours were established, the difference between the various modules – being knowledge modules (KM’s), practical modules (PM’s) and work modules (WM’s), a comparison of old unit standards vs the new National Skills Programme, the new training materials, required activity records, assessment guidelines and checklists, as well as the secure certification features.

Members were then engaged with a variety of questions and answers around the new programme and were able to discuss certain challenges from a business perspective and look at specific scenarios to determine an appropriate outcome.

Following on the presentation, members continued in dialogue over various concerns about the regulation of the industry and frustrations related to the lack of responsibility many other companies had adopted towards what is ultimately the law, and how this affects business of members. One member raised the point that in their own investigations, companies with no knowledge of regulations (or care for that matter) were servicing the industry as a ‘sideline’ and doing whatever they feel fit to secure work for their business.

On a national level, there was the echoed sentiment that profits had become a very big challenge as it was evident that “desperate measures“ had been implemented to secure work. While this was seen as the norm, some members commented that the sustainability of the industry was at question if reasonable profit cannot exist – why should businesses continue to work at a loss to meet lowered standards.

The event was closed with members being wished well until the next gathering to be held later in the year.