Industry groups have provided greater clarity about the role of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) workforce under the Victorian government’s new Work Permit Scheme.
Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced the permit scheme this week as part of stage four restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite not being listed as an essential service, Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) CEO, Glenn Evans, said RAC work can still be undertaken in certain circumstances, but it must be done safely.
“For clarity it would have been better if RAC was specified as an essential service in its own right but it doesn’t mean the industry cannot work,” Evans said.
His comments were supported by other industry groups including the Airconditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association (AREMA) and Refrigerants Australia (RA).
AREMA president, Mark Padwick, said the government has provided guidance stating that RAC services, repairs and maintenance can mostly continue if businesses follow a COVID-Safe plan.
“In some circumstances operations are restricted but they are continuing. Examples listed by government include meat processing, cold storage, distribution, warehousing and construction,” he said.
Refrigerants Australia chair, Brian Jecks, said the industry can operate but it must be done with care.
"This includes the importation of refrigerants and the wholesale trade of essential equipment, tools and spare parts,” he said.
“It is not business as usual but if the RAC industry is smart and makes necessary adjustments to meet the challenge of COVID we can continue to support the essential services that rely on our products.”