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Reaching old safety frontiers – gas certificate

23 July 2014

Most people may or may not be aware that should you have gas appliances installed on you property, you need a “gas certificate” for such installations. Property owners may not know that there are safety standards that need to be adhered to. Since 1 October 2009 any person who has liquefied petroleum gas appliances installed, modified or altered on their property, or if there is a change of user or ownership, must have a Certificate of Conformity issued in terms of Regulation 17(3) of Pressure Equipment Regulations, 2009 (Regulations). Any appliances that reticulate, circulate or convey gas will be required to have a Certificate of Conformity.

On face value, the Regulations do not appear to prescribe any period of validity for an issued Certificate of Conformity, nor do they appear to prescribe any enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance. However, in terms of the Incorporation of Health and Safety Standards into the Pressure Equipment Regulations, 2009, the Minister of Labour has incorporated into the Regulations SANS 10087: Part 1 (Safety Standards). The Safety Standards (10087 - 1:2013) deal at length with and regulate the handling, storage, distribution and maintenance of liquefied petroleum gas in domestic, commercial and industrial installations. Although the Safety Standards are usually a recommendation, they have been incorporated into the Regulations and, therefore, have legal status.

The Safety Standards are quite comprehensive, but some of the important provisions include:

Location of gas containers:

  • Each container should be located in an upright position with the valve uppermost, and should be so placed on a firm level base that there can be no danger of the container tilting or falling over.
  • In flats the maximum size permitted for the container is 9 kg and in houses the maximum size is 19 kg. It is not clear whether the maximum size includes containers located both inside and outside, but to err of the side of caution the limit should be regarded to include both.
  • Containers should not be located below ground level in a building, for example, in cellars or basements, and containers should not be located above or on top of any appliance used for cooking or heating.
  • Containers should be located at least 300 mm away from a gas stove, unless the container is protected from the heat of the stove in an approved manner.
  • Should the container be located outdoors, then it should be located on a firm, clean, well-drained and level base. The area surrounding a container should be kept clear of combustible materials.
  • The containers should be at least 1 m away from any opening that is below the level of the container valve, that is doors, windows and airbricks; 2 m away from any drain, pit or manhole; 3 m away from the property boundary, unless the boundary has a firewall, in which case the containers could be next to the firewall, and where there are only two containers, the boundary distance can be reduced to 1 m; and 3 m away from any opening directly above the containers.

Installation of gas appliances:

  • Fixed appliances must be installed by a registered installer. Pipe runs must be as neat, tidy and as short as possible. 
  • Appliances must be connected to the pipework of an installation in a way that will eliminate undue strain on the pipework and fittings and, if rigid connections are used, the appliances must also be so rigidly fixed that they are not capable of being moved after their installation.
  • If an appliance needs to be moved for cleaning etc, it shall be connected to the pipework by means of flexible tubing or hose.
  • To prevent the hose or tubing from being ruptured or torn from its mountings, the appliance shall have a restraining mechanism of a length that is shorter than the hose or tube.

The Safety Standards provide that on completion, and before commissioning, the installation must be inspected, tested and approved by the registered installer, and the user shall be issued with a Certificate of Conformity that indicates that the installation has been tested and that it complies with the Safety Standards. A copy of the Certificate of Conformity must be sent to a body appointed by the Chief Inspector of the Department of Labour for record purposes and, where required, to the local authority.

The registered installer must supply the user with a printed instruction sheet or booklet describing the correct and safe handling of the gas appliances, and appropriate general emergency procedures.

There is no time period prescribed for the validity for an issued Certificate of Conformity, but the Safety Standards provide that the user must ensure that appliances, components of the installation and the distributing system are inspected at regular interval, not exceeding five years, to ensure that all components are still operating effectively and that the system is leak free. All hoses used on outdoor installations must be replaced five years after the date of installation.

The team

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