Refcom responds to calls for easier F Gas checks

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The safe handing refrigerant register Refcom has launched a new feature that makes it easier for suppliers to check whether buyers of refrigerant gases are properly certified.

As a result of the European F Gas Regulations, it has been a legal requirement since July 2009 for all businesses that install, maintain or service stationary equipment containing or designed to contain F gas refrigerants to obtain an F Gas Company Certificate.

Refrigerant suppliers are required to ensure anyone buying gas from them is certified, but a number have told the administrators of the Refcom scheme that it can be difficult to check whether certification is up to date and genuine.

Air conditioning and refrigeration engineers can use their F Gas Certificate or an ACRIB SKILLcard to prove they are certified – no other form of evidence is legally acceptable. Some counterfeit certificates have been spotted as well as some non-compliant plastic cards, which – unlike the ACRIB card – are not legally valid as proof of F gas certification.

As a result, Refcom has simplified the process by introducing a search facility on its website that allows suppliers to check customers’ credentials by both company name and/or F gas certificate number.

Ensuring that the company name and certificate number match is a reliable method of establishing whether an operative is legally allowed to buy refrigerant gas. However, if the supplier finds a problem they can contact the Refcom helpdesk to establish whether the company has chosen not to be publicly listed on the register or if the certificate is invalid.

Refcom, which was set up by the Building Engineering Services Association (then the HVCA) in 1994, was appointed by the government as a certification body to provide the mandatory registration service for the refrigeration and air conditioning sectors.

It works with the Environment Agency to ensure the F gas regulations are properly enforced and refrigerant reclamation carried out. It now accounts for more than 80% of company certificates covering the UK refrigerant handling market. This makes it a key component of the UK’s efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases and tackle global warming.

“This is a very important new feature,” said BESA’s senior mechanical engineer Graeme Fox. “Refcom has been pivotal in efforts to drive up professional standards across our industry and ensure we continue to manage the safe handling of F gases. However, we are not complacent and continually monitor the situation to ensure nothing undermines the rigour and integrity of the F gas scheme – such as failure to produce valid certification details when buying refrigerants.

“The easiest way for someone to prove their credentials is to show their original certificate or their ACRIB SKILLcard, which is the only legally compliant portable proof of F gas certification and operator competency,” he added. “Also, at just £40 for three years it is extremely cost-effective as well as convenient.”

The success of Refcom in managing F gases used in heating and cooling equipment was acknowledged in a major report published in the US last year.  The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) studied refrigerant management and recycling programmes worldwide and found that the UK had the highest reported rate of recovery at between 65 and 92%, which is ahead of other major economies including Australia, Canada, California, the EU, Japan, China and Brazil.


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