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F-Gas take-up concern

Contractors have been urged to ensure that they are complying with the F-Gas regulations, following the latest figures on company registrations.

Figures from the Refcom database show that 3,700 companies have registered to handle refrigerants or install equipment containing them. When added to databases held by Quidos and Bureau Veritas, the total is expected to come up short of the estimated 5,000 companies who operate in the rac sector, perhaps by as much as 1,000.

There have been calls for more direct messages on responsibilities aimed at smaller contractors to prompt them into action.

There are also concerns that companies are leaving it too late to put their workers through the F-Gas qualifications. These have to be acquired by July 2011 if engineers are to be working with the refrigerant. Major end-users have already indicated that they will not allow engineers on site without the card after next July.

Barry Lyons, chairman of Acrib’s Technical Committee, said: “We remain concerned at general reports of a slow take-up overall of the C&G 2079 and CITB J11. But a number of training providers have indicated that their courses are fully booked during the next couple of months. This indicates a resistance to long-term planning
within the industry.”

Neither awarding body has given any indication of the volume of take-up of the new qualification so far. But the HVCA RAC Group’s recent survey of its contractor members showed that most expected to send engineers on the new qualification by April this year, which suggests that there could be training bottlenecks by the middle of the year.

Mike Nankivell of Acrib’s F-Gas Implementation Group called for the Government to play its part in enforcement.

“There is still a lack of awareness in some sectors about the requirements. Without evidence of activity on behalf of the enforcement agencies, the Government still has some way to go to ensure that all parties comply with the F-Gas and ODS requirements,” he said.

He added that Acrib was working closely with F-Gas Support on getting the message through: “Some pointed direct publicity to engineers via, for example, wholesaler trade counters, will help particularly with the smaller contractor. Targeting of all equipment users to demand the new F-Gas qualifications would definitely be a step in the right direction.”

Karen Leader, chairman of HVCA RAC Group, added her concerns over training.

“The current economic climate could see employers delay putting their employees through the necessary training, and this will create an enormous last minute surge in demand,” she said.

“There may not be enough tutors or training centres, and the standards of training may start to lean towards ‘easier’ courses which means standards may decline to meet the need.

“Also a number of technicians recently made redundant have not been working during the past few months, so there is concern as to where they might find the money to pay for training.”

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