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Contractors welcome moves toward first global refrigeration competence standards

Paris agreement to work towards Refrigerant Driving Licence will set minimum engineer standards around the world,

Graeme Fox, Past president of European contractors’ body AREA, has welcomed the co-operation agreement in Paris between US association AHRI and the UN Environment Programme to work on refrigeration engineering competence standards that can be applied globally.

The concept for the Refrigerant Drivers Licence is the fruition of 18 months of talks aimed at addressing contractor concerns surrounding the safe and responsible use of alternative refrigerants including the impending proliferation of the ‘mildly flammable’ A2L gases.

Mr Fox said: “The concern is that, although in Europe and in North America there are competence standards that are adhered to (albeit not always rigorously enough), there are many areas of the world where such standards don’t really exist and that will bring serious safety and environmental concerns when these countries start using alternative gases frequently.” 

The RDL concept is to set a minimum standard of competence for RAC technicians working with all refrigerants, Mr Fox said: “It will naturally fall at a lower level than that of our own F-Gas technicians or US NATE certified technicians, but we believe that, as the standard bearers and drivers of industry improvement, it is right that we lead from the front in developing and improving the skill levels of everyone working with refrigerants.”

Mr Fox added: “It naturally follows on from the work that AREA has been involved in with UNEP for some years now and we look forward to working closely with both UNEP and AHRI in developing this concept to fruition.”

AHRI and UNEP completed an Exchange of Letters at the recent Montreal Protocol Open Ended Working Group meeting in Paris.

AHRI said the agreement includes the development of a global qualification program for refrigerant supply chain networks, aka the “refrigerant driving licence” (RDL), aimed at ensuring the sound and safe management of refrigerants.

It said the agreement will support the accelerated global transition to new refrigerants brought on by the Montreal Protocol’s ozone layer protection targets by addressing challenges in soundly and safely managing refrigerants.

It will also complement existing programmes to upgrade the skills and knowledge of field specialists as new technologies become available, it added.

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