I-GAS – a new qualification for maintenance & gas fitters

Published:  04 August, 2016

PWE takes a look at the launch of the Combustion Engineering Association’s “I-GAS” - a new qualification for maintenance and gas fitters working in industry.

There are many activities routinely occurring in industrial premises that might require breaking into a gasway for maintenance or repairs. Currently, available training and certification for gas fitters and engineers working on domestic and commercial appliances is often not appropriate for the types of gas equipment commonly found in industry, increasingly including premises where electricity is generated using gas.

Large numbers of maintenance technicians, gas operatives and contractors working in factories may have no formal training in the safe use of gas in industry. Gas is widely used in bakeries and other food processes, breweries, laundries, metals processing, energy centres, chemical works, pharmaceutical, and lots of other manufacturing across a wide range of industrial users and sites. Most people know of Gas Safe qualifications, and that it is a legal requirement in domestic situations to have the appropriate Gas Safe accreditation for the appliance being worked on. However, these qualifications are not required in factories and the associated training will not be relevant for the types of equipment and sizes of plant involved, the only requirement is to be able to prove competence.

Guidance to Regulation 3 of the ‘Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998’ (GSIUR) says:

“Gas work for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations should only be undertaken by a person who has successfully completed an appropriate full training course followed by assessment of competence”.

The CEA’s Industrial Gas Operations Accreditation Scheme (I-GAS) qualification has been devised to fill this gap, in collaboration with industrial gas training providers, manufacturers of combustion equipment, and employers. It is the only formal training and accreditation scheme currently available that is specifically designed for maintenance staff and technicians working with gas in industrial premises.

Candidates for I-GAS qualifications are expected to already be working as mechanical fitters or installers, maintenance technicians or in other associated industrial activities where they are working around gas fired systems and equipment. They may already have domestic gas qualifications and need to enhance these with an industrial gas qualification, or they may have no formal gas training at all.

While everything is completed correctly by suitably qualified and experienced personnel all is well, but the devastation caused by an untrained operative adjusting the gas valve to the boiler is highlighted by a boiler explosion in 2013 - Its sister boiler exploded in 2014, all because the operator and the company had not learnt its lesson from the first explosion.

No Formal training and no company procedures were in place either before or after the first explosion.

In order to prepare candidates for I-GAS accreditation a number of independent and competing organisations offer suitable training courses approved by the CEA.

These courses are intended to supplement and confirm existing knowledge and prepare suitable candidates for the various levels of qualification afforded by I-GAS. All courses are a mix of practical assessments and written examinations assessed by independent gas Assessors.

I-GAS Accreditation itself is not a legal requirement, however it is a test of a person’s competence in relation to their current knowledge and experience at the time their assessment is completed. It is only one possible component that may help an organisation to demonstrate their corporate responsibility to provide suitable training for employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

I-GAS is not a substitute for Gas Safe qualifications which are still needed for work on gas installations in a wide variety of domestic and commercial premises and other publicly accessible locations such as schools and hospitals.

Five levels

The CEA is the independent Certification Body responsible for the scope, syllabus and administration of the scheme, and the selection and appointment of Training Providers and Assessors.

There are five levels that can be achieved under the I-GAS accreditation scheme and suitably skilled entrants can join at the appropriate level in line with their knowledge and skills, these are:

• Level 1 - Entry portfolio

New entrants, possibly with limited gas experience.

Off line course and home study to familiarise candidates with gas industry standards, legislation and procedures. Not accredited to work on gas systems.

• Level 2 - Industrial Gas Maintenance

Safe procedures for gas work, breaking into gas ways, repairing or replacing gas line components ‘like-for-like’, strength testing, tightness testing, purging & relighting end of line equipment. Knowledgeable to supervise gas contractors.

• Level 3 - Industrial Gas Technician

Work on gas pipework; understand combustion principles and combustion equipment. Combustion analysis and emissions. Setting regulators.

• Level 4 - Industrial Gas Engineer

Pipework design, strength testing, Pipeline replacement and modifications to installations (incl. “component change” procedures), and gas system commissioning.

• Level 5 - Industrial Gas Designer

New installation design and certification. DSEAR and risk assessments. Gas installation projects.

The first five day public I-GAS level 2 course is week commencing 22 August 2016 at Blue Flame, Newcastle Under Lyme.

The first five day public I-GAS level 3 is week commencing 24 October 2016 also at Blue Flame.

1. For many years the safety of work on gas installations has been covered in the ‘Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998’ (GSIUR). These Regulations require employers and the self-employed to ensure the competence of anyone working on gas systems, and this is at present only possible by gaining certification through the Gas Safe Register, currently the only body with HSE approval.

2. Much of the GSIUR does not apply to factories (within the meaning of the Factories Act 1961) or any place to which provisions of the said Act apply, but when working at premises at which GSIUR does not apply (e.g. factories, quarries, electricity generating installations etc.), competence in carrying out gas work safely is still required to comply with the general duties in sections 2 & 3 of the HASAW Act.

3. The Gas Safety (Installation & Use Regulations) 1998 Approved Code of Practice - Fourth edition 2013 - ISBN 978 0 7176 6617 1

The ACOP is available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l56.htm

4. The Combustion Engineering Association (CEA) is an educational charity originally formed to promote the science of combustion engineering and today embraces the study of efficient energy use, the exchange of new technology information, the training of industry professionals, the development of standards and good practices, and the provision of services for its ever growing membership.

5. The I-GAS training syllabuses, assessment processes and accreditation procedures are all copyright of the Combustion Engineering Association and all applications for Training Provider or Trainer status, Assessor status or any other use of the I-GAS material or logo must be made to the Director of the CEA.

6. I -GAS Accreditation is valid for 5 years and renewal is required before this point in order to ensure that industrial gas operatives remain up-to-date with current legislation and best practice.

For further information please visit: www.cea.org.uk

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