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Wholesalers issue safety warning to customers

CNN Magazine (April 16): Wholesalers distributed an urgent safety message to customers this week warning users about flammable refrigerants.

The formal warning was drafted amid rising concerns about flammable refrigerants being used in equipment not designed for their use.

The initiative has the support of the entire supply chain from equipment manufacturers to gas suppliers and contractors.

 In an extraordinary series of events in recent weeks, a number of urgently convened summits have been arranged to address the increased use of flammables as a result of carbon pricing.

Refrigerants Australia executive director Steve Anderson said there has been “persistent attempts” to market flammable refrigerants into retrofit applications, as so-called “drop-in” replacements.

“This practice can be highly dangerous, and could place staff, customers and the general public at risk of death or serious injury,” Anderson said.

 “Flammable refrigerants should only be used in equipment specifically designed for their safe use, or in accordance with advice from the equipment manufacturer.”

Anderson said this problem isn’s just restricted to hydrocarbons it also includes R-32 and HFO’s.

 “The irresponsible use of flammable refrigerants will slow down the transition to low GWP refrigerants,” he said.

Australia’s HVAC&R industry has moved quickly to address safety concerns participating in a industry summit at Parliament House in late March.

The summit has led to a commitment by the federal government to review a number of occupational health and safety concerns.

The department is also briefing the newly appointed parliamentary secretary for sustainability, Amanda Wishworth.

“State electical regulations prohibit the use of flammable refrigerants as a drop-in replacement although it is still being promoted by some sections of industry,” Anderson said.

Recognising the need for urgent action a meeting of equipment manufacturers and wholesalers was convened in early April to draft the warning to customers.

 At the same time the draft Code of Practice for Flammable Refrigerants was released for industry-wide review.

Feedback closed on April 14, 2013 with the final code slated for release in the second half of the year.

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