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CATEC®, training in how to work in confined spaces: differences

Confined spaces are potentially hazardous because their atmosphere is not easily renewed. To understand these risks, training courses are available to help people acquire the skills they need to guarantee their safety.

Among others, there is a certified training course aimed at people working in the water treatment and wastewater management sector: CATEC®.

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Confined space

The CATEC® procedure

There is a skills certification procedure: Certificat d’Aptitude au Travail en Espace Confiné, or CATEC® (Authorisation to work in confined spaces). It describes a common, homogeneous set of basic skills incorporating good practices for avoiding risks to your health when performing this type of work.

Who is it aimed at? All employees working in confined spaces in the drinking water production and distribution sector and the wastewater collection and treatment sector. In the course of their daily work, they are required to inspect, service, repair, maintain and construct or expand these facilities.

When? Recommendation R-472 of 19 November 2012 by the French technical committee for the transport, water, gas, electricity, book and communication industry, supplementing Recommendation R447.

How? CATEC® training is a certification procedure specifically geared to the risks in question, as a supplement to basic safety training for all people required to work in confined spaces (totally or partially closed areas).
The recommendations stipulate that everyone working either directly or indirectly in confined spaces should receive training: the people who actually enter confined spaces as well as their supervisors (external supervisors). The certificate is valid for 3 years.

 

Prerequisites for obtaining CATEC® certification:

All

  •     Medical fitness
  •     Notions of area monitoring
  •     Knowledge of how to use a gas detector

Supervisors

  •    Knowledge of emergency escape breathing devices (so that they can inspect workers’ equipment when facing them just before the work is carried out)
  •    Knowledge about the use of equipment for working at height: tripod, fall arrest devices, harnesses (so that they can inspect the workers’ equipment when facing them just before the work is carried out)

Workers

  •     Medical fitness for working in a confined space, working at height, wearing emergency respiratory protective equipment
  •     Sound knowledge of the use of equipment for working at height (fall arrest systems: harnesses, tripod, etc.)
  •     Sound knowledge of the use of PPE (including self-rescuer respirators)

Employers are responsible for training their employees, who are declared fit to carry out the work, in the equipment provided to them. This training is given before the CATEC® training.

Training in how to work in confined spaces

Training in how to work in confined spaces is a means of acquiring and/or reinforcing the knowledge required to ensure one’s own safety and that of other workers. In addition to the water treatment sector, confined spaces are commonplace in many activities, including:

  •     Farming (manure pits, silos, etc.)
  •     Food industry (wine-making tanks, wineries, slaughter waste recovery tanks, cold cellars, etc.)
  •     Chemistry (reactors, mixture and storage tanks, etc.)
  •     Water and wastewater (treatment, storage and supply of drinking water)
  •     Waste (collection, storage, sorting, etc.)
  •     Transport (vessels, cisterns, underground public transport networks, etc.)
  •     Property and housing (crawl spaces, technical rooms, independent wastewater facilities, etc.)
  •     Building industry (concrete mixers, etc.)

Training is usually delivered in two parts: theory and practical exercises.  At the end of the training course, people will be able to:

  •     Analyse the work environment
  •     Prepare and organise the work
  •     Make the work area safe
  •     Work safely in a confined space
  •     Use the rescue equipment in the event of an accident

Initial training is not enough – regular refresher sessions are required to make sure workers are comfortable with the risks related to confined spaces.

This training course is also aimed at companies, to make them aware of the risk of fatal accidents and disabilities arising from work in confined spaces, and remind them of their obligations with regard to occupational health and safety: prevention plan, single assessment document, criminal liability, and so on.

What equipment is recommended?

In addition to training, protective equipment is available to counter the various risks:

  •     Risk of asphyxiation: use of fans and smoke ejectors, gas detectors to test the atmosphere, wearing of PPE (self-rescuer respirators)
  •     Risk of falling from a height: use of fall arrest devices such as harnesses
  •     Risk of injury: regular inspections of the equipment