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Refcom audit confirms F-gas regs are working

UK: Refcom's latest audit of registered companies suggests that the F-gas regulations are working with the majority of firms being fully compliant.
The quarterly audit, a legal requirement as part of Refcom's operating agreement with Defra, was carried out on a randomly selected group of 50 businesses on Refcom's register of over 4,000 air conditioning and refrigeration companies.

The majority of businesses who took part in the audit were fully compliant with the regulations. The minority who weren't fully compliant received guidance to achieve their full compliance.

'The audit reflected exactly what we expected, namely that the F-gas regulations are working,' said Refcom secretary Steve Crocker. 'Taken as a whole, this is great news for the industry, which has repeatedly declared its desire for a fully compliant level playing field for all SRAC businesses.'

Steve added that the success of the F-gas Regulations in promoting compliance, as evident in the audit, is further evidence that a phase down is not necessary and should not be made obligatory.

He said: 'It is our view still, in line with ACRIB and AREA, that there is no need for a phase down as long as businesses keep the refrigerant contained within the system by using properly compliant businesses that use properly qualified and competent engineers. This, of course, is the whole ethos of F-gas and why contractors in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have spent vast sums of money on training and compliance with F-gas.'

The random audit involved two large companies (defined as companies with 50+ engineers), three medium-sized businesses (10-49 engineers), 27 small companies (2-9 engineers) and 18 sole traders. Both of the large companies passed the audit with no problems, as did two of the medium-sized companies. One of the medium-sized companies was passed after 'minor non-conformances' were corrected.

'Minor non-conformance equates to things like no documentary calibration evidence for weighing devices,' explained Steve Crocker. 'This is usually forgotten to be included in the documentary evidence sent to us.'

Eleven small businesses and six sole traders also fell foul of minor non compliances but were passed after providing further documentary evidence to substantiate their position.

Only five companies ¬ three small companies and two sole traders ¬ showed major non-conformances. These, however, were corrected and the companies eventually passed.

According to Refcom, the audit successfully demonstrated the importance of having effective processes and procedures in place, equipping the in-scope engineers with the proper specialist tools and equipment, and the recording and maintenance of accurate refrigerant handling records.

Those who refused further attempts at compliance in 2011 were suspended from the Refcom register. Refcom is currently investigating complaints made from within the industry and these on-going investigations are being reported to Defra.

As of the end of June , the number of companies on Refcom's register stood at 4,224 , with businesses currently joining at a rate of between 40 and 50 per month.

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