F-Gas (HFCs refrigeration and air conditioning)

Why is it important?
Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases) can significantly contribute to global warming if released into the atmosphere. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) are all types of F gas. The effect of these gases on our atmosphere, when released, is far greater than Carbon dioxide HFCs are the most common type of F gases and are mainly used as refrigerants in air conditioning and other refrigeration systems. F gases can also found in other equipment, such as fire protection systems, high voltage switchgear, and specialised industrial processes as well as solvents and types of aerosols.

Applicable legislation

  • The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2015 (as amended).
  • The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2015 (as amended).

Frequency of tasks for refrigeration and air conditioning systems

  1. Take steps to prevent F gas leakage and repair detected leakage as soon as possible on all stationary systems.
  2. Regularly check for leakage.

Normal systems   

  • CO₂ equivalent 5 tonnes to 50 tonnes: at least every 12 months
  • CO₂ equivalent 50 tonnes to 500 tonnes: at least every 6 months
  • CO₂ equivalent more than 500 tonnes: at least every 3 months

Hermetically sealed equipment containing less than 3Kg of fluorinated greenhouse gases (6Kg if hermetically sealed) does not need to be leak checked until 31/12/16. Hermetically sealed equipment containing less than 10 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent, does not need to be leak checked.

    3. Fit automatic leak detection system for stationary systems above 500 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent.

    4. Keep records about refrigeration plant that uses F gases for stationary systems of 3Kg or more, to include;

  • The quantity and type of F gas refrigerant installed in each system
  • Any quantities of refrigerant added
  • The quantity of refrigerant recovered (during service, maintenance or final disposal)

    5. Recover F gases during plant servicing and maintenance, and at end of plant life for all stationary systems.

    6. Use appropriately qualified personnel to carry out installation, servicing and maintenance, and leakage checking on all stationary systems. Have company certification if employing personnel to undertake installation, maintenance or servicing of RAC systems. There are further obligations for companies employing these personnel or wishing to take delivery of containers of F gas

    7. Label new equipment adjacent to service point/information & in instruction manuals for all stationary systems

    8. The placing on the market of non-refillable containers used to service equipment was banned from July 2007, except for those shown to be manufactured before that time, this is relevant to all systems.

What does compliance look like?

  • An up to date register of all refrigeration and air conditioning systems
  • A record of each system covering, types and quantities of F gas contained and further information on addition or recovery, through to end of life.
  • A plan of leakage detection checks including frequency of checks
  • The names of the companies undertaking any installation, servicing, and maintenance or leak detection work.
  • Relevant competency details and qualifications for all personnel installing, servicing, maintaining refrigeration or air conditioning systems or wishing to take delivery of containers of F gas.
  • The results of all inspection, leak test, servicing etc. for each system
  • Copies of all relevant certificates, service reports etc. relevant to each system. The up to date labelling of any new systems installed stating type and quantity of HFC refrigerant used.

This guide is of a general nature; specific advice can be obtained from Assurity Consulting. Assurity Consulting is the UK's leading independent compliance consultancy specialising in workplace health, safety and environmental solutions. We have over 30 years' experience of helping customers of all sizes, from across all sectors, manage their compliance responsibilities, making sure that their organisation is compliant, their employees are safe, their processes are cost effective and their management team is in control.

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