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NZ industry 'unprepared for flammable hydrocarbons'

An inquest in New Zealand has heard that the refrigeration industry there isn’t enough skilled staff to work with the imminent growth of flammable hydrocarbons

The refrigeration industry is completely unprepared with not enough skilled staff to deal with the imminent arrival of flammable hydrocarbons in coolstore refrigeration systems.

Refrigeration engineer and IRHACE representative Brian Jackson told Coroner Peter Ryan, at the inquest of Hamilton Senior Station Officer Derek Lovell, their industry was completely flummoxed by the sudden pressure and momentum to use hydrocarbons.

“There’s absolute pressure and momentum to lead towards the flammable hydrocarbons.”

The current legislation was overwhelming and there was not enough qualified staff coming up through the ranks to safely use or install hydrocarbons.

“We have been confronted by huge change and recent complexities at a rate most people can’t absorb and it’s a bit like the evolution of computers… Not only the amount of stuff you need to learn to keep up but the complexity has to a point where it’s not immediately obvious so you can’t absorb it and learn it and carry on as we have … so if there isn’t any compulsion to go and find that stuff in the busy lives that people lead, it just doesn’t happen.”

Mr Jackson said the industry had been pleading to the Government for some form of regulation - to cut out the “cowboys” - for years without success.

He could understand how Warren Cook, of Mobile Refrigeration Specialists who designed and built the Tamahere site, did what he did and how he thought it was right.

Mr Gudsell said in Mr Cook’s submission he wrote, he didn’t  know he wasn’t complying with relevant legislation.

Refrigeration systems are not under the Building Act so there was currently no formal checking or approval procedures in place which he said was “disgraceful”.

“There’s nothing the equivalent in our industry.”

Mr Jackson continues to give evidence

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