Refrigerant driving licence ‘will save many lives’

Graeme Fox of BESA

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has welcomed the long-awaited launch of the United Nations Refrigerant Driving Licence (RDL) scheme to help improve worldwide safety standards in the air conditioning and refrigeration industries.

More than a decade in the making, the scheme was launched at a conference for signatories to the Montreal Protocol hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Bangkok. It seeks to help developing nations achieve higher competence standards in safe refrigerant handling through training and accreditation of operatives.

The Association’s technical director Graeme Fox was one of the founders of the RDL scheme and hailed its launch as a “significant development for the worldwide refrigerant industry that will save many lives”.

“A lot of countries do not enjoy the training and technical infrastructure we take for granted in Europe and the rest of the developed world,” he said. “Many of those countries still want to progress and adopt more environmentally friendly refrigerants. However, the speed of the transition to new gases is causing some very serious safety issues and there have already been several deaths caused by the mishandling of these substances.”


The European Union is currently debating a further strengthening of its F-Gas regulations, which would lead to an even faster pace of change away from higher global warming potential (GWP) gases to flammable alternatives. Changes in large developed markets are quickly reflected in other parts of the world as manufacturers adapt their production strategies.

The African industry is concerned that it is being used as a ‘guinea pig’ to test refrigerant transition, and the U-3ARC, which represents companies in all 54 African states, called for a halt to their introduction until technicians were properly trained.

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