Know your obligations

It has become a legal requirement for all businesses that install, maintain or service stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning or heat-pump (RAC) equipment that contains “F gas” refrigerants to hold a Company Certificate issued by an appointed Company Certification Body.

On 9 March a new piece of legislation came into force in Great Britain – GB Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009 S.I. no. 261. Amongst other things this Regulation sets out the two important requirements for personnel and companies working on RAC (refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump) systems. These are:

  • Personnel qualifications
  • Company certification

These requirements have been put in place by EC F gas Regulation, 842/2006. Commission Regulation 303/2008 provides more details. This article provides details about both these key legal obligations.

Company certification
From 4 July 2009 all companies that employ qualified personnel in order to carry out installation, servicing or maintenance of RAC systems containing F gases must hold a company certificate. This includes sole traders as well as larger contractors. It also includes operators that employ in-house qualified staff.
REFCOM has signed an agreement with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirming its appointment as a mandatory F gas company certification body for businesses operating in the stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump (SRAC) sector in Great Britain.  
Between 4 July 2009 and 4 July 2011 an Interim Company Certificate will be sufficient. This will be based on proving that all relevant personnel in a company hold either the interim or the full personnel qualifications as described above.
By 4 July 2011 all companies will need a Full Company Certificate, based on the full qualifications that meet the minimum requirements of the Commission Regulation, as listed above.
Please note, it will be an offence to carry out installation, servicing and maintenance on RAC systems using HFCs without a company certificate after 4 July 2009.
The key obligations for contractors relate to personnel and company certification. It is also an obligation to fit labels to any new equipment that contains F gas refrigerant. Contractors need to be aware of the end user obligations and should not knowingly help operators avoid them.

Personnel qualifications
Since last year when the 2008 GB F gas Regulations came in to force all personnel that carry out certain activities on HFC equipment containing 3kg or more (installation, maintenance, servicing, leak testing and refrigerant recovery) must hold an appropriate qualification, also referred to as a personnel certificate. Definitions of these activities are given in the Commission Regulation.
Currently the list of qualifications that a technician may hold includes the list of interim qualifications that are deemed acceptable in the short-term and new ones that have been developed to meet the long-term requirements of the Regulation.
An interim period has been allowed by the EU to give personnel time to gain the new qualifications that meet the minimum requirements of the EC Regulation. During the interim period between now and July 2011 any personnel holding one of the following qualifications will be deemed a holder of a suitable personnel certificate:

  • City & Guilds 2078
  • CITB J01

By the end of the interim period, 4 July 2011, all personnel must obtain a full qualification that meets the minimum requirements specified in Commission Regulation 303/2008. The relevant qualifications for equipment containing 3 kg or more HFC refrigerant are:

  • City and Guilds Level 2079-11
  • CITB J11

There are in fact four levels of qualification that meet the minimum requirements that those working on RAC systems can hold, known as Categories I to IV.

F-Gas Support is a Defra funded team that provides advice and information on all aspects of the EC F gas and Ozone Regulations.

For more information

To get further information on any of the issues discussed in this article contact F-Gas Support:
Help Line: 0161 874 3663    

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