Following its call to the Australian government in late March to maintain “essential service” status for refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) businesses and technicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) continues managing its RAC licensing program.
“The coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges facing the refrigeration and air conditioning industry (RAC) in modern times” said ARC CEO Glenn Evans. Nonetheless, he added, “we have put in place measures to keep the ARCTick license scheme operating on a ‘business as usual’ basis, with only minimal changes.
The ARCTick license scheme is a RAC licensing program with over 85,000 licensed individuals and businesses. ARC also manages a “Green Scheme Accreditation” program, which qualifies technicians to handle natural refrigerants and HFO-1234yf.
During the pandemic, face-to-face audits have been replaced by electronic checks via email, “so businesses can manage their day-to-day work more efficiently and safely,” said Evans.
To minimize the risk to industry, the reception area at ARC’s head office in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, is closed to the public. “If license holders want to drop off application forms or other documents, they can call us at 1300 884 483 or post them to ARC at Locked Bag 3033 Box Hill VIC 3128,” said Evans.
ARC is continuing to deliver quick turnarounds for license renewals, added Evans, “and we have worked to make sure our phone and email support services are still available Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm so industry has a direct line of contact with us if they need help.”
Evans noted that since the pandemic was declared, ARC has seen a slight reduction in licence applications and renewals. “However, this is likely to be an initial response to a collective ‘taking of breath,’ reconciling the impact of COVID-19 before we expect application renewals to return to normal numbers.”
ARC has also been lobbying both the federal and all state governments to recognize the RAC industry as an essential service in order to maintain ongoing work opportunities and save jobs.
“This will help to maintain RAC businesses during this time, particularly if there is a non-essential business lock-down, and rightly highlights the importance of the RAC industry in modern society,” he said.
He is not alone in these calls. Tony Gleeson, President of the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating (AIRAH). has also contacted “federal, state and territory ministers and called on the government to clearly identify HVAC&R, building maintenance and support as essential services.” Similar requests have gone out in North America.
The future may be uncertain, but Evans suggests that it will always be “vital for RAC technicians and businesses to demonstrate their professionalism and skills.” When it comes to working with low GWP refrigerants, “having the appropriate training and accreditation – through the ARC Green Scheme Accreditation program – is now more important than ever,” he said.
The coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges facing the refrigeration and air conditioning industry (RAC) in modern times.Glenn Evans, ARC