Across the industry, support is growing for engineers who hold an ACRIB Refrigeration Skillcard.
This is particularly the case among UK retailers including Sainsbury’s, which is committed to working with operatives who can demonstrate their commitment to the highest standards in the sector.
The legal requirement for any engineer or technician carrying out work within the scope of the F-Gas Regulations is to hold a valid F-gas certificate (City & Guilds 2079 or CITB J11).
This came in nearly four years ago and there are now more than 27,000 engineers qualified to this level.
Yet there is still a great opportunity for others to achieve this qualification, with F-gas courses taking on new applicants every day. Currently anyone carrying out work within the scope of the regulations without an F-gas certificate is putting their employer and the end user at risk of contravening the 2009 GB F-Gas Regulations which carries statutory fines.
The European Commission has recently said more needs to be done to reduce emissions from the RAC sector. Some end users are currently following a policy of introducing low GWP refrigerants in new installations. All have a legal obligation to ensure leaks are found and fixed in existing systems, as well as ensuring that operatives are fully trained and qualified for the work on F-gas systems they are undertaking. There is also a proposal from the European Commission pending for a revised F-Gas Regulation which might require regular reassessment and new training in alternatives to HFC refrigerants.
“Our customers expect us to do the right thing by them so we have to be able to easily check that an engineer carrying out service and maintenance work on our refrigeration systems has the correct qualifications,” says Sainsbury’s head of refrigeration John Skelton.
“The ACRIB Skillcard could be one such solution because it confirms their qualifications and demonstrates their commitment to the highest standards. We see first-hand the benefits for our colleagues who undertake training that leads to externally recognised qualifications. If the ACRIB Skillcard became mandatory it would raise the standard of expertise across the entire sector, because it could also prove competence in CO2, hydrocarbon, ammonia, brazing, and the IOR’s Real Zero certification.”
Contractors are similarly keen for their employees to transfer to the ACRIB Skillcard when their RAC CSCS cards expire, because it provides evidence of their commitment to refrigeration specialist skills and health and safety. The ACRIB Skillcard scheme is open to those who currently hold Blue or Gold Skillcards, and a CRO ACRIB Skillcard is available for those without NVQ qualifications. The key requirements are that engineers have their F-gas and health, safety and environment test.
“WR Refrigeration, as the largest and leading UK commercial refrigeration contractor, fully supports and endorses the ACRIB Skillcard and is transferring engineers and project management personnel over to the ACRIB scheme as their CSCS cards expire,” says WR Refrigeration head of engineering Paul Arrowsmith.
“The ACRIB Skillcard is equally important to both installation and service engineers and we believe should be considered as an essential industry passport to work, demonstrating not only that the engineer holds the necessary qualifications but that they have attained a minimum level of health and safety awareness. F-gas legislation, competence and health and safety apply as much to retail service and maintenance as to general installation or construction activities and standards have to be upheld irrespective of the marketplace.”
This scheme is backed by the RAC industry and managed on behalf of BRA, HEVAC, B&ES, IOR, CIBSE and other members of ACRIB. The continued support for the specialist ACRIB Skillcard refrigerant handling scheme is evidence for policy makers and customers that the RAC industry is stepping up to the environmental challenges and that it takes its health and safety obligations very seriously.