The South African Qualification and Certification Committee (SAQCC) for Gas urges all gas manufacturers and installers to adhere to the gas regulations set up by the Department of Labour (DoL) to ensure that fatalities are minimised.
Registration of gas practitioners through SAQCC Gas is a legal requirement in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
SAQCC Gas director John Parry points out that Section 44 of the OHSA requires the design, manufacture, operation, repair, modification, maintenance, inspection and testing of pressure equipment, with a design pressure equal to or greater than 50 kPa, in terms of the relevant health and safety standards incorporated in the Pressure Equipment Regulations (PERs) and SANS 347.
SAQCC Gas, mandated by the DoL, is responsible for ensuring that anyone working with gas systems is competent to do so in terms of the PERs, and represents four associations – the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of South Africa, the Southern Africa Compressed Gases Association, the South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association and the Southern African Gas Association.
Parry explains that any dangerous gas or liquid is regulated because it is a hazard, either by being flammable or flammable under pressure – some gases may not be flammable, but are under high pressure and, thus, regarded as hazardous.
“Therefore, these regulations are about safety and aim to make the environment as safe as possible for people while ensuring that installation is done safely.”
SAQCC Gas aims to usher these regulations into the gas market through awareness campaigns – involving newsletters, press releases, advertisements and conferences – directed at the four gas associations to ensure that their practitioners are aware of the regulations and compliance being a legal requirement in terms of the OHSA.
Applications for gas practitioner registrations are sent to SAQCC Gas by each association according to the registration criteria and proof of competency, through a portfolio of evidence of training, qualifications and experience in the relevant gas industry.
Approved applicants are then registered with SAQCC Gas and their details are incorporated into the National Database for Authorised Practitioners, which can be viewed online at the SAQCC Gas website.
“SAQCC Gas uses the expertise of the four associations to ensure that all practitioners are competent and practitioner cards can be issued.”
“There may be some well-informed, trained, nonregistered gas practitioners in the field, but the members of the public cannot be aware of this without a means of identifying the practitioner,” he adds.
Parry explains that injuries arising from defects in the construction of pressure equipment and nonpressure equipment can be fatal.
He cites that SANS 347 states that these consequences primarily depend on the hazard level of the dangerous gas or liquid and that an increased hazard level requires an increased degree of independent conformity assessment or verification.
There are four hazard levels and each level is determined by the pressure, as well as the volume of the dangerous gas or liquid – the higher the pressure, the higher the hazard level.
"An increasing number of users are becoming aware of the need to use compliant practitioners. “ Users can confirm compliancy of their preferred installer by dialling 011 285 0038 and simply citing the practitioner’s registration number,” Parry concludes.