EU F-Gas regulations – Training and Certification Requirements for Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Heat Pumps

Training and Certification Requirements for Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Heat Pumps

This guidance is for organisations affected by the 2014 EU F-Gas Regulation (517/2014). The F-Gas
Regulation creates controls on the use and emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases)
including HFCs, PFCs and SF6. The 2014 EU F-Gas Regulation replaces the 2006 Regulation,
strengthening all of the 2006 requirements and introducing a number of important new measures.

Training and certification is an important feature of the F-Gas Regulation as it ensures that technicians
understand how to minimise emissions during installation, maintenance and at end-of-life of
equipment containing F-Gases.
This Information Sheet describes the requirements that apply to training and certification related to:

-Stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps (RACHP)
-Refrigerated trucks and trailers (RTT)

Personnel Training and Certification – General Requirements for RACHP


Activities covered by personnel training requirements

Personnel involved in certain activities on equipment that contains or is designed to contain F-Gases
require an F-Gas handling training qualification. In particular, this applies to:
– Installation
– Leakage checking
– Maintenance or servicing
– Refrigerant recovery
– Decommissioning

Sectors requiring mandatory personnel training

The end user sectors for which these training requirements apply include:

1) Stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps – this includes equipment of any
size that contains an F-Gas refrigerant (usually an HFC refrigerant).

NEW: Refrigerated trucks1 and trailers2 using F-Gas refrigerants


Who should hold a personnel training certificate?

All technicians that carry out the activities detailed above on equipment in the sectors listed above
that contains F-Gases must hold an F-Gas handling certificate. This requirement applies both to inhouse staff and to personnel employed by external contractors.
An appropriate qualification for personnel working on these systems can only be awarded by an
approved certification and evaluation body. These are bodies that have been approved by the UK
Government, as detailed in GB Statutory Instrument 261/20093

Scope of personnel training


The F-Gas Regulation requires all EU Member States to provide suitable training programmes for
personnel working in these areas. The training programmes must cover:

– applicable regulations and technical standards
– emission prevention
– recovery of fluorinated greenhouse gases
– safe handling of equipment of the type and size covered by the certificate
NEW: information on relevant technologies to replace or to reduce the use of fluorinated
greenhouse gases and their safe handling.

The detailed scope of training is defined in European Commission Regulations published to support
the 2006 F-Gas Regulation. These Regulations are still valid. The relevant training Regulation is:

– Regulation EC/303/2008 Stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps

This Commission Regulation specifies the required practical skills and theoretical knowledge and it
specifies the conditions for mutual recognition of certificates between EU Member States.
It should be noted that there is currently no Commission Regulation that defines the training
requirements for refrigerated trucks and trailers. Until such a Regulation has been published, it should
be assumed that the requirements for stationary RACHP apply to refrigerated trucks and trailers.

Validity of existing personnel certificates


Existing certificates issued in accordance with the 2006 EU F-Gas Regulation remain valid, in
accordance with the conditions under which they were originally issued.

It is important to note that the training requirements have been slightly extended in the 2014
Regulation, but this will not invalidate any existing certificates. Member States need to ensure that
all personnel holding existing certificates have access to information regarding each of the following:

-relevant technologies to replace or to reduce the use of F-Gases and their safe handling
-existing regulatory requirements for working with equipment containing alternative
refrigerants to F-Gases

It is not yet clear how this requirement will be fulfilled in the UK. It is likely that standard information
material will be prepared by experts and circulated to certificate holders via Certification Bodies or
training centres.

Personnel Training and Certification – Specific Requirements for RACHP


Categories of Training and Certification

For personnel working on stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps, the European
Commission Regulation 303/2008 refers to four different levels of certification, which allow personnel
to carry out different activities. Category I covers all activities whereas the other 3 categories are
more restrictive.

Company Certification

In addition to personnel certification, contractors working on stationary RACHP systems require a
Company Certificate.

Activities covered by company certification requirements

Companies (including sole traders) require an F-Gas Company Certificate if they carry out the following
activities on stationary RACHP equipment containing F-Gases:
– Installation
– Maintenance, servicing or repair
– Decommissioning

Who should hold a Company Certificate?

A Company Certificate is required by contractors providing services related to stationary refrigeration,
air-conditioning and heat pumps. It is not required by contractors that only work with refrigerated
trucks and trailers. All businesses that carry out the above activities for other parties4
require a Company Certificate. This requirement applies to sole traders as well as limited companies. Each separate “legal person”, including both companies and sole traders, needs a Company Certificate.

Company certificates can only be given if employees hold Category I or Category II qualifications. If
employees hold only a recovery qualification (Category III) or a leak checking qualification
(Category IV) their company cannot be certified

Requirements for a Company Certificate

To gain a full Company Certificate, businesses need to show that:

a) they employ sufficient personnel to cover the expected volume of activities and those
personnel hold qualifications that meet the minimum requirements of EC/303/2008 as
described above
b) they have the necessary tools and procedures available to their trained personnel to ensure
that their clients’ F-Gas emissions can be minimised.

Other Related Information


Purchase of F-Gases

NEW: The F-Gas Regulation states that: “bulk supplies of F-Gases shall only be sold to and purchased
by undertakings that hold the relevant certificates or attestations”. Companies selling F-Gases will
need to screen their customers to ensure compliance with this requirement. In most cases the
required proof is a Company Certificate. See Information Sheet 19 for further details about customer
screening.

Exemptions from Personnel Certification

There are exemptions for three categories of personnel:

1) Trainees are exempt for up to 2 years, but they must work under the supervision of a person with
an appropriate F-Gas personnel qualification and must be enrolled on a training course to obtain
one of the appropriate F gas qualifications.

2) Personnel only undertaking brazing, soldering or welding on a piece of RACHP equipment would
be exempt if they hold a nationally recognised qualification to undertake such activities and if
they are supervised by a person holding an appropriate personnel certificate to undertake
installation of F-Gas containing equipment.

3) Personnel undertaking recovery of F-Gases from “waste equipment” under the WEEE Directive
(Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) EC 96/2002 with an F-Gas charge less than 3 kg, in
premises covered by a suitable permit, are exempt provided that they are employed by the
company holding the permit and have completed a training course on the minimum skills and
knowledge corresponding to Category III that is verified by an attestation of competence issued
by the permit holder.

Manufacturers


Personnel and Company Certification requirements do not apply to any RAC manufacturing and
repairing activity undertaken at a manufacturer’s sites.

What is the status of a non-UK personnel qualification?


The EC F gas Regulation requires that Member States give mutual recognition to certification of
suitable qualifications from other EU countries. This will applies to certificatesthat meet the minimum
requirements specified in Commission Regulation EC/303/2008. The European Commission has
published a list of qualifications that meet the minimum requirements.

What is the status of a non-UK Company Certificate?


A Company Certificate issued in another EU Member State is valid in GB.

What is meant by “installation”?


Commission Regulation 303/2008 defines installation as follows:
“installation” means joining two or more pieces of equipment or circuits containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gas refrigerant, with a view to assembling a system in the location where it will be operated, including the action by which refrigerant conductors of a system are joined together to complete a refrigerant circuit irrespective of the need to charge the system after assembly
This is a wide ranging definition that covers all activities that involve joining individual parts of a
refrigeration system together.

What is meant by “maintenance or servicing”?


Commission Regulation 303/2008 defines maintenance or servicing as follows:
“maintenance or servicing” means all activities, excluding recovery and checks for leakage, that entail
breaking into the circuits containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gases, in particular
supplying the system with fluorinated greenhouse gases, removing one or more pieces of circuit or
equipment, re-assembling two or more pieces of circuit or equipment, as well as repairing leakages.

The SRAC industry and the world as a whole, now understand that fluorinated gases have a potentially devastating global warming effect when released into the atmosphere.

F Gas regulations have been implemented in order to contain, prevent and thereby reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

On 2nd April 2008, the Commission Regulation 303/2008 set out the requirements for a company certification scheme.

This scheme is specifically for businesses working with F Gas refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gases.

These F Gas Certification requirements are in accordance with Article 5.1 of EC Regulations 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (the EC F Gas Regulation).