“Clearly these markings were present merely to mislead users in buying the equipment.
“Because the cheap imported equipment is generally of poor quality, the equipment is costing the buyer more because it does not last as long as the genuine article,” he adds.
“The copied equipment looks very much like the original Mon- arch torches and Harris regula-tors, but is not manufactured to the same quality and safety stan- dards as specified for this equip-ment in this country, although some of the equipment is claimed to have South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) approval,” he adds.
Boucher explains that there is no SABS quality standard applicable in respect of regulators and torches and, if buyers are in any doubt as to the authenticity of these claims, they should ask for confirmation in the form of a certificate.
“In South Africa, regulators and torches are manufactured to global European Norm stan-dards,” he adds.
“The buyer and user should be aware of these issues as gas is a high-energy process which requires top-quality equipment to assure operator safety – anything less can result in disaster.” With regard to flashback arres- tors, two cheap imported models had been tested and had failed the test, although each had safety regulatory standards printed on it.
“It is important for the buyer to ensure that each flashback arrestor bought is equipped with a nonreturn valve, sintered filter, cut-off valve and inlet filter.
“Each must also have SABS EN730 accreditation, for which an official certificate is required,” Boucher says. In another safety-related issue, Boucher encourages companies to check the credentials of gas equipment repair companies as there are also a number of pirate repair operators undertaking repairs to equipment for which they are untrained and unauthor-ised, and for which old, damaged or homemade spare parts are being used.
The company has carried out various tests on acetylene and oxygen regulators and cutting torches repaired by unauthorised repair operators. Flashback arrestors were not tested, as they are not repaired but replaced.
“The results are startling,” says Boucher, adding that most of the ‘pirate repaired’ equipment that had been tested is, in fact, rated as ‘dangerous product’.
Results indicated that the re-paired acetylene regulators had old diaphragms, incorrect pres-sure and valve springs, old valve seats and seat holders, no filters in the bull-nose and, the unit pushed up to about 350 kPa – this is dangerous on a DA regulator as this high draw-off could cause decomposition which can result in fire or explosion.
Other tests conducted on another repaired acetylene regu-lator indicated that the incorrect pipeline bull-nose was used, without a filter, there was an old inlet nut, old first and second-stage diaphragm and gasket, the first stage was leaking badly and the bonnet was opened by a foreign tool, the first stage setting was incorrect – between 300 kPa and 400 kPa – which is dangerous when used with acetylene, which has a topmost setting of 150 kPa, and the repairer had used a form of sealant on the gasket, that, if used with oxygen, could result in an explosion.
The repaired oxygen regulator also had various faults, making the product a danger for use.
These were just some of the flaws identified on the regu-lators, making the product a hazard to both employer and employee.
“Using unsafe equipment can result in an accident which could seriously injure the welding equipment operator, and also land the employer in a court of law,” says Boucher.
“Because of the dangers invol-ved, gas welding and cutting equipment may only be repaired by qualified personnel – in effect the manufacturer,” he adds.
Harris does not train or qualify anyone other than its own technicians to work on its equipment and neither does it supply outside repairers with spares.
“All repairs undertaken by people other than the manufac-turer are therefore not author- ised and are undertaken with- out the genuine parts,” says Boucher.