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A UNIT of competency requiring automotive air-conditioning students to demonstrate their ability to retrofit systems from R134a to R1234yf and hydrocarbon refrigerants has slipped through the net despite opposition from industry stakeholders including VASA during the consultation process.

In addition to previously existing information about retrofitting to R12 to R134a, AURETU005 Retrofit and Modify Air Conditioning and HVAC Systems provides instructions on completing system retrofits from R134a to flammable refrigerants.

As any VASA member knows, retrofitting from R134a to R1234yf conflicts with standards developed by SAE that set out strict requirements for systems that will use R1234yf in order to minimise the risks associated with its mild flammability.

This kind of retrofit is also unnecessary due to the fact that R134a will remain available for servicing existing systems.

Retrofitting an automotive air-conditioning system to hydrocarbons is also illegal in Queensland and of questionable legality from a health and safety perspective in other Australian jurisdictions, because using flammable refrigerants in systems that were never designed for them is fundamentally unsafe.

A meeting about this unit of competency was held on June 23, with 12 industry representatives present, including from major car manufactures.

VASA made a written submission demanding AURETU005 be removed from the curriculum with immediate effect.

Because AURETU005 carries the Commonwealth crest on its front cover, this is being taken by sections of the industry as Commonwealth endorsement of unsafe, unapproved retrofit practices.

VASA contends that there would be a question of moral responsibility, if not legal liability, on the Commonwealth were an accident to happen.

The TAFE system faces a dilemma because procedures described in AURETU005 conflict with domestic and international standards, laws in Queensland and internationally, and are not supported by any car manufacturer.

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