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:
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.
Since last year, when the 2008 GB F gas Regulations came into 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:
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:
There are in fact four levels of qualification that meet the minimum requirements that those working on RAC systems can hold. These are known as Categories I to IV and Table 1 describes the activities for each Category and lists the providers references.
By 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.
At the time of writing the company certification body has not been put in place.
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 July 4th 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.
Note that 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.
F-Gas Support is a Defra funded team that provides advice and information on all aspects of the EC F gas and Ozone Regulations.