On October 15, Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) held a meeting of the Risk Reduction Group (RRG), a committee set up to assess the risks involved in the pressure vessel-related activities engaged in by industry members, with the goal of scaling the compliance program to the real level of safety risk. At this meeting, industry representatives expressed the consensus view that the requirement for periodic retesting of technicians on their brazing qualifications was excessive, given the level of skill and training possessed by refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics in the province.

Instead, it was proposed that TSSA simply review the brazing elements of the trades training program to ensure it meets TSSA's standards. It was suggested that a one-time test on brazing for new technicians (and possibly a one-time test of existing mechanics to prove competence) should be sufficient to ensure safe performance in the field. Thereafter, only if TSSA had evidence from the field that technicians were regularly breaching safety through improper brazing should periodic testing even be considered. At the moment, TSSA does not have evidence that there is a problem in this sector.

TSSA agreed to take this recommendation to its BPV Advisory Council for consideration. At an earlier meeting this summer, the Risk Reduction Group tackled the residential air conditioning sector and came to the conclusion that residential air conditioning should probably remain exempt from the provisions of the BPV regulations. It was even felt that the threshold could safely be raised from 3 tons to 5 tons of cooling capacity.

While some concern was expressed about the higher pressures associated with R-410A, it was felt that equipment manufacturers were doing a sufficient job of training contractors on the safe use of this refrigerant. HRAC has also met with TSSA to discuss the possibility of creating a generic version of the Quality Manual that is required under the regulations. This manual would be registered by HRAC on behalf of its members, allowing members to save considerably on the cost of developing such a manual for their own purposes. This approach has already been taken by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario (MCAO) and by ORAC on behalf of closed shop contractors.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 800-267-2231 or e-mail mluymes@hrai.ca.

Publication date: 11/07/2005