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F Gas Cards?

By Graeme Fox

I’ve been following closely the developments recently of one of the F Gas certification companies issuing what they call an “F Gas Card”. They claim it’s “like your F Gas certificate…only smaller” in their mailshot campaigns, “We decided it was high time your F Gas certification got smaller, more convenient & pocket sized”, it goes on to say.

Only problem is: it isn’t an F Gas certificate. It has no use other than to scrape the ice off your windscreen later in the Winter, and to be honest I don’t even know if it’s any good for that. The only thing it is any good for is a handy carry around reminder of your F Gas company registration number but how secure is that?

The card has on it a company F Gas registration number but no other detail. What about companies with restricted certificates? Some people do sub-contract work only – they carry out pipework and unit install only, up to the point where another company comes along to carry out the pressure test, charge and leak test. As such they don’t carry recovery machines and scales. Because they can’t demonstrate full compliance REFCOM will issue a restricted certificate with a caveat that the holder can carry out pipework install only and that no gas handling is allowed, but I’m not aware of other certification bodies being that responsible. I know of companies registered with another certification body who are of this ilk (names withheld for legal reasons here!) but these cards don’t have any indication of the level of certification on them…so does that mean someone with no means of properly and legally recovering gas or weighing it into or out of a system can produce one of these cards at a wholesaler and buy gas? That isn’t right surely?

There is a reason why the law states a company must produce a certificate – it has all the details on it regarding the suitability of the company and any restrictions on that company’s ability to work in the industry. Is it only REFCOM that protects the industry sector like this?

Those who know me, know I’ve always advocated use of the ACRIB Skillcards. They are even better now that have the smart technology embedded. Not only are they perfect as ID cards as they have photo ID on them, they also hold all of your qualifications on them electronically. A smartphone or tablet can be used to scan the card and show all your qualifications – not just F Gas but Health & Safety to gain access to sites…brazing, electrics, scissor lift training,…basically all the add on skills that we all need in our day to day work really. At least if someone presents an ACRIB card at a trade counter then the storeman knows the person holding the card is entitled to hold that card because it has their picture on the front! Let’s be honest anyone could pick up the “F Gas card” and use it fraudulently and nobody would be any the wiser. It was a nice gimmick but it’s wide open to abuse.

What’s more the ACRIB card is what funds ACRIB to operate as an industry umbrella body representing the whole supply chain in the UK. We have one of Europe’s most effective F Gas systems in the UK mainly because REFCOM worked proactively with other trade bodies under the ACRIB umbrella in helping DEFRA with the implementation. Yes it’s not perfect – we all know there is a long way to go in making it fully effective. The sale of splits on internet sites continues to be a headache for the EA to police and there is still a perception that bodies such as REFCOM “don’t do anything proactive”. Now I’m working for them I can see that the perception of doing nothing is probably a testament to how effective they are – working away feverishly behind the scenes to improve the lot of the contractor isn’t something that is visible, but it doesn’t mean nothing is going on.

I posted a poll on a well-known social media site industry forum yesterday asking what people expect of REFCOM: someone added the option “Taking ownership of f-gas and leading in regulation, training, compliance and enforcement”. In less than 24 hours that option has over 100 votes. It’s clear that the sector want REFCOM to be proactive and effective….how do they expect it to do that if they change their registration company for the sake of £5 a year and a useless card/windscreen scraper?

Posted by Graeme Fox 11 August 2017 15:52:00 Categories: Fox's Tales

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