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New qualification for maintenance and gas fitters working in industry

30 May 2017

The Combustion Engineering Association has introduced 'I-GAS', a new qualification for maintenance and gas fitters working in industry. David Kilpatrick, director of the CEA, explains more

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) states: '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.

Whilst everything is completed correctly by suitably qualified and experienced personnel, then all is well, but the picture below shows an example of the devastation caused by an untrained operative who was adjusting the gas valve to the boiler.

The first boiler exploded in 2013 and 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. 

2013 (NB. The sister boiler in the background)         2014 (both boilers now lay in ruins)

Approved training courses                    

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.

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.

Five day I-GAS level 2 and level 3 courses are available at: Blue Flame, Newcastle Under Lyme and Kiwa Gastec in Stoke Orchard.