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Compressed air systems: The need for appropriate training
30 July 2015
With compressed air used in such a wide variety of applications, a thorough understanding is essential, as Greg Bordiak, technical officer, BCAS, explains
As with other items of industrial equipment, the compressor needs to be installed, operated and maintained correctly to ensure it operates safely. If a system isn’t properly operated and regularly maintained it could end up posing a danger, and in extreme cases, catch fire or explode.
There is continuing concern that despite the risks, there are currently no formal accreditation schemes for designing, installing and maintaining compressed air systems.
This means end-users could well be receiving poor advice and safety could be compromised.
In the absence of formal accreditation, BCAS offers four compressed air training courses for those who supply or service compressors and also for those who use compressed air on a daily basis. These include Working Safely with Compressed Air, Certificate in Compressed Air System Technology (CertCAST), Diploma in Compressed Air Management (DipCAM), and a Competent Examiner course.
A good place to start is with the ‘Working Safely with Compressed Air’ training; a one-hour, internet-based course designed for anyone who works with compressed air as part of his or her normal duties.
The Working Safely with Compressed Air course offers an opportunity to study for a qualification using materials over the Internet. The course gives a systematic introduction to the main principles and uses of modern compressed air systems and how to comply with current legislation whilst working safely.
Developed by BCAS in conjunction with safety practitioners, it addresses the needs of those who use handheld air tools, including blowguns. As well as identifying the employer’s and the employee’s responsibilities, the course explores the hazards arising from the use of air tools and the correct use of personal protective equipment.
A simple checklist of safe working practices is also provided to ensure that nothing gets overlooked in the workplace.
The Certificate in Compressed Air System Technology e-learning course is also relevant to anyone working with compressed who is looking to improve their understanding of the basic principles of compressed air production and use, as well as the components that constitute a compressed air system.
Those who undertake the course will gain a comprehensive introduction to the main principles and uses of modern compressed air systems.
Diploma In Compressed Air Management (DipCAM©)
This qualification aims to provide a comprehensive technical grounding in the principles of operation of compressed air systems. It has been developed and produced to meet the needs of people who have responsibility for a compressed air installation and wish to attain a level of technical knowledge.
The DipCAM course is relevant to manufacturers, distributors, managers, maintainers and installers of compressed air equipment and systems.
As a result of undertaking this DipCAM course and acquiring the required knowledge and understanding, an individual will be better placed to: understand the interrelation of components within a compressed air system, understand installation and maintenance related issues, make decisions on selection of compressed air system equipment and be aware of compliance requirements of the key relevant UK and EU legislation.
The distance learning, paper-based course is completed at the candidate’s own pace over a period of up to six months, entailing up to 50 hours of self-study. Tutor assistance is available via the telephone or email during office hours.
Owners or users of a compressed air system operating in excess of 0.5 bar and containing an air receiver must comply with 15 regulations, two of which, under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations, require a written scheme with examinations of the equipment carried out at intervals specified within that scheme.
BCAS developed this course to provide the basic knowledge and skills necessary to be able to offer examination services in accordance with the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations.
This qualification assures customers that an approved standard has been achieved in order to carry out the function of a Competent Examiner. In the event of an accident, such a certificate would demonstrate to the Health and Safety Executive that duty of care obligations have been met.
Candidates are expected to have five years’ experience in the compressed air industry, and to be aware of the examination requirements contained within the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations.
Moving forward it’s the society’s belief that a nationwide compressed air apprenticeship programme, which leads to a recognised NVQ qualification that could be under-written and certificated by BCAS, would be of benefit both to the compressed air industry and to end users.