Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) is the accepted and recognised standard in the UK which gas engineers who have adequate experience and training gain a certificate of competence. ACS reassessment is required every five years.
The certificate allows gas engineers to become recognised members of the Gas Safe Register. The Health and Safety Executive is in charge of this register. It is a legal requirement that gas engineers should have a certificate before they start to offer professional services. It is also essential for reassuring customers that the engineer working on the gas connections in their home is well qualified for the service. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is responsible for overseeing the scheme.
What Does ACS Cover?
Through ACS engineers are required to demonstrate their competence in managing a wide range of gas work. Commercial heating, meter installation, LPG, domestic gas and boiler installation and repair are among the skills in which the engineers must prove their competence before they can acquire the certification. There are several approved centres in the UK where the engineers can take the ACS reassessment. Apart from displaying their skill in gas handling, engineers are also required to take some safety assessments according to their specific areas of expertise.
The first test that an engineer must complete to qualify for ACS is CNN1. It covers the core element of gas safety and must be achieved before undertaking any further assessment. The test is offered in the form of multiple-choice question papers and practical work. The assessment covers the following areas.
- Safety regulations when handling gas
- Recognition and testing of chimney systems
- Practical work on gas pipes
- Knowledge on use of gas controls
- Plugging and testing the tightness of pipes at low and medium pressure
- Gas rates and gas combustion
After the successful completion of CNN1, engineers are required to take tests that are specific to their area of expertise. Further tests on the knowledge of handling gas appliances such as cookers and central heating are also conducted. Most institutions also offer an initial assessment for the specific appliances that the engineer will be working on along with the CNN1 assessment. The appliance tests often cover the following areas.
- Appliance installation
- Commissioning of the appliances
- Maintaining and servicing the appliances
- Fault finding and basic safety
What Are the Qualifications for ACS?
Engineers must satisfy specific criteria to qualify for the ACS assessment. The assessment is classified under three categories.
1. Category 1
This category features experienced engineers who have already acquired the ACS certificate or any other relevant qualification. In this category, engineers are allowed to renew a certificate that is nearly expiring or one that has expired within the past 12 months. Engineers who are seeking to get certified in a new area can also take a course in this category.
2. Category 2
In this category, individuals who can demonstrate the evidence of recognised qualification in a trade related to gas work are allowed to take the ACS assessment. Plumbers, for example, can easily qualify for this category. The individuals must, however, demonstrate that they have hands-on experience at gas work, and work under the supervision of a qualified gas engineer who is registered by the Gas Safety Register.
3. Category 3
This category caters for new entrants into the gas industry. Applicants in this category are often looking to further their experience and qualifications in the field before they can undertake the ACS assessment. The applicants are required to take a vigorous apprenticeship before they can finally take the ACS assessment.
When Do You Need to Take an ACS Reassessment?
Once gas engineers have passed the initial assessment, they receive an ACS certificate and become part of the Gas Safe Register. This certificate is, however, valid for only five years. Gas engineers are therefore required to take a reassessment test at any time, six months before the certificate has expired. Gas engineers must ensure that they are timely for their reassessment tests as failure to do so can lead to their removal from the Gas Safe Register.
Prerequisites for the ACS Reassessment
For an engineer to apply for ACS reassessment, he or she is required to present their previous ACS certificate that has expired within a period of fewer than 12 months or is due to expire within the next six months. Additionally, they are required to present their gas safe registration number. Although refresher training is not compulsory before the reassessment, most engineers prefer to take one before undertaking the test. Refresher training also allows trainers to identify areas in which the engineers need further training and work on them before the reassessment. A refresher course can be obtained from your reassessment centre at a slight extra cost.
What Should a Gas Engineer Expect During an ACS Reassessment?
The ACS reassessment, like the initial ACS assessment, has two sections. It consists of practical and theoretical exams. The theory section comes in the form of an open book question paper. Engineers, therefore, have access to the training manual and British Standards to use for reference. Practical examinations are conducted in the reassessment bays found at various locations within the ACS training centres. These bays are designed and built in a specific way to accommodate real-life scenarios that are necessary for the examination.
The price you pay for your ACS reassessment covers all the materials and tools needed for your practical examination. All costs required to complete your reassessment are also included in the total price. If an engineer opts for a refresher training session before he or she undertakes the reassessment, they can access quality training and assessment exercises from the assessment centre that they have selected.
Can Gas Engineers Work After Their ACS Certificate Has Expired?
Working with gas not only poses a risk to the technicians but to homeowners as well. That is why several laws have been put in place to promote safety within the industry while protecting the public. According to the laws and regulations that have been in place for gas work within the United Kingdom, an engineer must renew his/her ACS certificate every five years. Certificates for working on any gas appliances must be renewed as well. It is, therefore, illegal to undertake any gas work without retaking the tests for their professional qualifications after the minimum period of five years. Failure to observe these regulations could lead to some serious legal consequences such as prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The Gas Safety Register
This is the official body responsible for regulating the operations within the gas industry in the United Kingdom. Gas engineers are also required to register with this body before they can start working on gas appliances within people’s homes. Initially, operations within the gas industry were monitored by CORGI. The organisation was however replaced by the Gas Safety Register in 2009. The main focus of the organisation is making safety improvements within the industry and ensuring that engineers adopt high safety standards in their operation. The organisation has currently registered over 120,000 gas engineers who operate legally within the sector. Unfortunately, there are many more engineers who still work illegally.
Engineers who work without formal registration and qualification are, however putting their lives and those of others at risk. That is why the Gas Safe Register works with a team of investigators who track down such careless gas workers and prosecute them. It is also essential to note that an engineer’s registration with the Gas Safe Register expires at the same time as the ACS registration. It is therefore vital to take a reassessment test before the end of the five years.
What Do I Need to Do if My License Is Already Expired?
Engineers whose licenses have expired within a year can take various courses and have their license renewed upon completion. The courses vary slightly from the initial test because the engineers will have acquired knowledge and experience by the time they are taking the reassessment. The courses entail a refresher training on the various areas of gas work and are administered before assessment.
In most cases, the reassessment process takes three days, one day of refresher training and two days of assessment. Once they have completed the course successfully, gas workers can carry out gas work legally and unsupervised.
The need for a gas engineer to have an updated ACS certificate at all times cannot be stressed enough. Having adequate training and updated certification is not only the proper way of undertaking gas work but can also save many lives. Engineers should, therefore, ensure that their certification stays updated by taking ACS reassessment tests. They should also present their ID card as often as they can to ensure that their customers understand that they are conducting their services with the highest level of precision and safety.
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