Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sale agreements should include a clause that provides for a compliance certificate to be provided by the seller where there are permanent gas installations on the property.
More and more people are opting to install liquefied petroleum (LP) gas appliances due to the increase in electricity prices by ESKOM and for health and culinary reasons! These new additions include gas hobs, combination gas and electric hobs, water heaters, refrigeration and even gas fire-places.
When you choose and install gas appliances, several important factors should be considered. Installation is regulated by standards and procedures as set out in the SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL STANDARDS (SANS) 10087 - 1:2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act no 85 of 1993. Some of the factors to be taken into account when installing gas appliances are ventilation, safety distances and the location of the cylinders.
In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, the Pressure Equipment Regulations require that all LP Gas installers undergo specific training and are registered with the South African Qualification and Certification Committee (SAQCC Gas) on behalf of the Department of Labour.
On 15 July 2009 the Minister of Labour published amended regulations to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1993 in respect of the 'Pressure Equipment Regulations’ (PER). This notice was given in Government Gazette 32395 Notice No. R. 734. The amended regulations came into operation on the 1st October 2009.
These regulations set out the requirements regarding the design, manufacture, operation, repair, modification, inspectionand testing of pressure equipment with a design pressure equal to or greater than 50kPa. In terms of the relevant health and safety standards incorporated into the Regulations under section 44 of the Act, reference to “pressure equipment” includes transportable gas containers, and even hot water geysers.
This amendment places a duty on the homeowner, and requires that an external inspection and leak test are performed by an authorized person after installation or reinstallation and before the commissioning of a gas system.
Regulation 17(3) provides that an authorized person or an approved inspection authority shall issue a certificate of conformity after completion of a gas installation, modification, alteration or change of user or ownership.
The authorized person must be registered with The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LP Gas).
Before the above-mentioned amendment, a certificate of conformity was not compulsory and only at times required when insuring property. Despite this, some insurance companies did not pay out in cases where an explosion or fire was proven to have been caused by a LP Gas installation with no accompanying compliance certificate/certificate of conformity.
What does the amended 'Pressure Equipment Regulations’ mean and how will they be enforced? These amendments are important as it now places a duty on a homeowner to ensure that he/she is in possession of a Certificate of Conformity/Compliance when gas appliances with permanent LP Gas cylinders are installed on the property and when the property is sold the Certificate of Conformity/Compliance must be given to the new owner of the property.
As with electrical installation and the issuing of an Electrical Compliance Certificate, no reference is made in the regulations as to how it should be enforced. It would be prudent to include this provision in the agreement of sale of the property.
Non-compliance with these Regulations is a criminal offence. Regulation 20 provides that an offender, if convicted, is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Buyers beware, the next time you purchase property with permanent domestic gas installation on the property, remember a Certificate of Conformity must be issued by a registered installer and handed to you. The only respite is that the provision does, however, not prohibit the transfer from being registered without the Certificate of Conformity. The Registrar of Deeds will not call for it either.