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Users warned of forthcoming R404A refrigerant ban

DEFRA has issued warnings of new F-gas rules that will ban virgin high GWP refrigerants, like R404A, in systems of 40 tonnes CO2e or more from 1 January 2020.

Under the European F-gas phase down timetable, virgin HFC refrigerant with a GWP greater than 2500 will be banned from being used to service or refill refrigeration or freezer systems, with a refrigerant charge size of 40 tonnes of CO2e or more. This equates to around 10.2kg of R404A, a common refrigerant in medium sized systems. Smaller and hermetically sealed systems should be unaffected by this ban.

In addition to the commonly used R404A, the ban will also include R507 and the R22 replacement gas R422D, both of which have GWPs in excess of 2500. The ban applies across Europe.

This rule also applies to companies who may have stockpiled these refrigerants before that date. Reclaimed or recycled refrigerant will still be able to be used until 2030.

DEFRA warns that operators who do not comply with the service ban are breaking the law and are liable for enforcement action. Regulators in England and Scotland can now issue civil penalties up to £200,000 to operators found to have breached the requirements of the regulation. Enforcement notices and possible fines can also be applied by enforcing authorities in Northern Ireland and Wales for breaches of F-gas provisions.

UK enforcement bodies, the Environment Agency (EA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have jointly produced and endorsed a leaflet which provides guidance for businesses affected by the F-gas regulation. This can be downloaded here.

See Original Cooling Post Source Here

£200,000 fines for F-gas violations

Companies and individuals who breach the F-gas regulations could face fines of up to £200,000 in new civil penalties being considered by DEFRA.

The UK government department responsible for administering the F-gas regulations, DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) has opened a consultation to gather views on the proposal to introduce civil penalties from April next year in England and Scotland. It would also apply to offshore hydrocarbon installations in marine areas.

Industry and green groups have voiced concerns that the current penalty measures for contravening the F-gas regulations do not provide sufficient deterrent against non-compliance. Currently, an enforcement notice carries no financial penalty and if the recipient then complies, no further action is usually taken.

“While criminal prosecutions can carry substantial penalties, they are used relatively infrequently, in part because they can be resource-intensive and costly to pursue,” says DEFRA. “Some may feel, therefore, that there is little risk or little to lose from not complying,” it admits.

The civil penalties would apply to a range of F-gas contraventions. The deliberate release of F-gases would remain as a criminal offence but there would still be the option to apply a civil penalty in such cases instead.

Four groups of penalty are proposed ranging in scale from £1,000 to £200,000 based on the seriousness of the infringement and the size of the business.

The maximum fine of £200,000 could be applied to offences such as the intentional release of F-gases to the atmosphere, breaches of the quota limits for placing HFCs on the market, and failure to comply with an enforcement notice.

Fines of up to £100,000 are proposed for offences where the impacts are likely to be less severe, but emissions of F-gases are still likely. This would include contravening F-gas requirements and procedures for minimising emissions or leakage of F-gases and recovering F-gases from equipment. It would also be levied on non-F-gas certified people handling F-gases or on those not fulfilling the requirements to register for and verify quota usage.

A maximum fine of £50,000 could be applied to breaches including failing to correctly label F-gases or products containing them; failing to comply with the requirements for declarations of conformity for importing products containing F-gases; and failing to keep records of F-gases used in equipment or F-gas sales.

More minor breaches such as not reporting within the prescribed deadline on F-gas production, import, export, destruction and feedstock usage could carry a maximum fine of £10,000

See Original Cooling Post source Here:

Environment Agency Actively Policing F-Gas Compliance

Environment Agency officers are actively policing F-Gas compliance by randomly checking service engineers F-Gas certification and working practices.

Reports that a service engineer was reclaiming refrigerant from a system prior to changing the reversing valve at a client’s premises when he was stopped and questioned by the Environment Agency who were passing by.

The Environment Agency officer asked what work the engineer was carrying out and made enquiries as to his qualifications and our company F-Gas Registration status.

Once the officer had checked and verified the company registration was valid,  the engineer was allowed to continue with his work having seen him correctly using a reclaim machine & cylinder.

This is good news if the Environment Agency is starting to ask questions & just goes to show you never know when someone may spot check you!

Get F-gas certified with ACR Training now.

New Refcom guidance sets out post-Brexit implications for F-Gas

Updated guidance has noted that many existing commitments of EU regulation are intended to apply to UK businesses certified to handle F-Gas products

Refcom has published new Brexit guidance for the UK cooling industry outlining how F-Gas regulations are expected to apply to their operations upon the country’s scheduled exit from the EU in late March.

The industry body’s latest guidance has noted that from March 30, many of the existing requirements are intended to be transferred directly into UK law.

This will ensure that the country will continue to restrict ozone depleting substances and curb F-Gas use in line with existing EU-wide commitments.

Requirements intended to be carried over into UK law, even with the uncertain progress of Brexit negotiations, include preventing the intentional and unintentional release of F-gases during production and use, according to Refcom.

Other requirements include ensuring leak checks are carried out and records of work are kept up to date, as well as committing to recover any gas for recycling, reclamation or destruction when equipment is repaired or decommissioned.

The guidance said that UK industry will also have to ensure products and equipment are correctly labeled, while certain equipment and gas are restricted from the market.

Refcom added that existing qualifications would remain valid and necessary for engineers and technicians in order to undertake work in line with the F-Gas regulations, with certification issued to contractors from other member states also remaining valid after Brexit.

The guidance stated, “For companies, the existing registration arrangements with Refcom remain valid. Refcom has confirmed our intention to continue to operate the UK’s largest F-Gas Register for both Great Britain and Northern Ireland after March 30, 2019.”

The organisation added that it would be continuing to update its guidance over the coming months depending on changes both in parliament and the European Commission that it described as “fluid and constantly shifting”.

Defra position

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced in a policy update last month that quotas introduced as part of the EU’s F-Gas regulations will remain in place regardless of the final direction of Brexit.

Existing targets that the UK subscribes to will remain in place to limit the availability of HFCs and other substances targeted under the regulation, however,% there will be some changes in registering for quota in either the UK or EU.  Defra said that the availability of higher GWP refrigerant will remain at 63% of the initial baseline for 2019 and 2020, with the quota cut to 45% in 2021.

Defra accepted that a failure to reach an exit agreement with the EU, would mean that F-Gas and ODS regulations would not formally apply from March 30. However, the government has claimed that new UK regulations would be introduced to transfer requirements into national legislation.

This, in turn, would require companies producing, importing or selling HFCS or ozone depleting products to either apply for a separate quota to sell either in the UK or EU market

The quota would apply for businesses putting HFC products equivalent to 100 tonnes or more of CO2 a year from March 2019.

Original post by RAC Magazine:

One 2 One F-Gas & Hydrocarbons Training…


Some people prefer to have one to one training when learning a new skill set it can sometimes be very difficult to find a training provider that delivers one to one training.

ACR Training recognise this issue and offer a One to One training solution on our F-Gas training courses.

Benefits to One to One training include,

  • Less stressful training environment for the learner
  • More in-depth training tailored to your work environment.
  • Steady approach to ensure that candidates learn at their own pace.
  • No Inflated course costs, One to One training costs are exactly the same as standard training costs.
  • No large class sizes. (ACR Training’s standard class size is 4 candidates Max to ensure that all candidates receive the best level of personal interaction during the learning process.)

If you would prefer to have training on a One to One basis, choose one of our One to One Training Packages.

Should you need further information regarding any of our training courses, please contact us, we will be happy to help.

Sounding the alarm – flammable refrigerant gas safety concerns

Air conditioning and refrigeration firms are becoming increasingly worried about the amount of flammable refrigerant gas being used by engineers without suitable training, writes Ewen Rose

The refrigeration and air conditioning safety register, Refcom, is receiving ‘daily calls’ from contractors raising serious safety concerns about the growing number of products designed to work with alternative – often mildly flammable – gases being introduced into the UK market.

These A2L classification gases are already widely used in the air conditioning and heat pump sectors, as the phasedown of HFCs gathers pace under the European F-Gas regulations. It is anticipated that they will eventually be used in a wider range of equipment, too.

The main source of concern is the lack of any specific training requirement for flammables specified under the terms of the F-Gas regulations. Employers are concerned because the issue is covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, which makes them legally responsible for the safety of their staff and customers. It is also captured by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals Regulations, which were revised in 2015.

Use of flammable refrigerant gas is ‘on the radar’ of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), according to head of Refcom Graeme Fox, who has predicted there could soon be a prosecution under its Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), which designate all refrigerants as ‘dangerous substances’. He has also pointed out that a ‘near miss’ could also be grounds for prosecution by the HSE.

‘The wider building services industry has been ignoring this issue for years,’ said Fox. ‘So far, it hasn’t been a big problem, but that is changing and the risks are intensifying, as more and more flammable alternative gases are coming onto the market because of the F-Gas phasedown.

‘Manufacturers have done a good job in making training available, but this is mainly product-specific. The industry needs to take advantage of the provision, now newly available from industry bodies, that delivers the wider knowledge needed to carry out complete installations safely.’

Low-GWP refrigerants are flammable and the vast majority of refrigeration mechanics/technicians were not trained in the use of such refrigerants
– Paresa Spanos

The employer of anyone working on a non-domestic refrigeration system must carry out a DSEAR risk assessment as part of standard health and safety procedures. This should include: information about the nature of the gas used; safety data; the process of installing, commissioning and maintaining the equipment; the amount of gas and its possible combination with other hazardous chemicals; and handling, storage and transport – all of which should be shared with the end user.

An inquest in Australia into the deaths of two workers in a refrigerant gas explosion has also brought this issue to the attention of regulators around the world. The coroner ruled that the fatalities could have been prevented if the men had been properly trained and made aware of the risks. Neither were qualified refrigeration engineers and one – a motor mechanic – had used hydrocarbon (HC) gas to top up a leaking compressor.

‘The explosion could have been averted through correct maintenance, correct use and labeling of refrigerants, and correct dismantling and removal processes,’ according to the coroner, Paresa Spanos.

‘[These] deaths highlight the dangers of unqualified people doing work that requires qualifications or, at least, a solid understanding of the substances and risks involved.’

She concluded there was ‘ample evidence’ that the refrigeration industry was facing challenges because of the move to low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, ‘because the low-GWP refrigerants are flammable and the vast majority of refrigeration mechanics/technicians were not trained in the use of such refrigerants’.

Australian industry bodies urgently revised their training provision after the accident and the UK is now following suit with the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) identifying a clear requirement for specialised training in the handling of all flammable refrigerants.

The ACRIB Education group – including employers, professional institutes, trade bodies and training/assessment organisations – has developed training for ‘experienced refrigeration engineers’, who must already hold a recognised F-Gas qualification, such as BESA Training F-Gas Cat I or II, City & Guilds 2079 Cat 1 or 2, or CITB J11 or J12.

The ACRIB course covers: understanding different classes of flammability as recognised by legislation and safety standards; the legislative and organisational procedures for installation, servicing, maintaining and decommissioning flammable refrigerants; and requirements for installing and testing refrigeration systems using mildly flammable gases.

Fox said there was ‘no need for panic’ because compliance was relatively easy for firms with proper training in place and experience of the market. ‘However, we must raise awareness of the risks so that everyone can be reassured and safe,’ he added.

Visit the Refcom website for details. 

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