Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases with high global warming potential and are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems and appliances.
A global phasedown on HFCs is being implemented from 2019 under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The switch from HFCs to more environmentally acceptable alternatives will help combat climate change, but will also present increased risks to health and safety in some circumstances because of the higher toxicity or flammability of common alternatives.
This discussion document seeks feedback on proposals to reduce the likelihood of harm to persons and property from the expected increase in toxic and flammable refrigerant use as New Zealand transitions away from HFCs.
We are seeking feedback on three alternative options that would ensure only competent persons install, repair, and maintain refrigeration, heat pump, or air conditioning systems that use toxic or flammable refrigerants:
- Option 1 would introduce an authorisation requirement for individual refrigeration service technicians and a requirement to establish and maintain a register of those individuals; or
- Option 2 would introduce an authorisation requirement for refrigeration service businesses and a requirement to establish and maintain a register of those businesses; or
- Option 3 would build on the current approach to industry self-regulation supported by WorkSafe effort to improve awareness, understanding, and compliance with current regulatory requirements.
We are also seeking feedback on a proposal that would require owners/operators of commercial or industrial refrigeration systems that use anhydrous ammonia to comply with the joint Australian/New Zealand Standard for commercial refrigeration systems (AS/NZS 5149:2016) to ensure consistent application of this Standard across all flammable refrigerants. This would require a change to the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017.