Ongoing need for training

02 March 2015

With compressed air used in such a wide variety of applications, a thorough understanding is essential, not only for those who supply or service compressors, but for the operatives who use compressed air on a daily basis. Chris Dee, executive director at BCAS (British Compressed Air Society) explains more

Keeping up-to-date with the latest health and safety practices while managing a busy working schedule can be a challenge. Taking a day out of the office to attend training courses might not be practical, but you still need to keep up-to-speed with the latest thinking.

Flexible learning

One 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.

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 provided to ensure that nothing gets overlooked back in the workplace.

In addition to ‘Working Safely with Compressed Air’, BCAS offers four other training courses – a Certificate in Compressed Air System Technology, the Diploma in Compressed Air Management, the Written Scheme workshop and a Competent Examiner course for those involved in carrying out examinations in accordance with the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR2000) written schemes of examination – specifically the testing and certification of pressure vessels.

These are voluntary courses, and not every BCAS member, let alone non-member, is currently aware of the benefits they can bring. 

Pressure Systems Safety Regulations

Awareness of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations is worryingly low, especially when you consider that it is a legal requirement for compressed air systems under the PSSR2000.

The PSSR2000 affect both suppliers and users of compressed air systems. Two provisions include the need for the user to have a written scheme of examination and as a result of this, the ability to carry out an examination of the compressed air system.

To cover both provisions BCAS offers a range of courses – a one-day workshop, a five-day residential course and now, a new refresher course to maintain certification with BCAS.

The written scheme one-day workshop covers the elements necessary for consideration in the production of the scheme. It provides background of the PSSR2000 and related standards and codes of practice, detailing the knowledge and understanding required as a provider of a written scheme. 

Those attending receive a manual with the current advice on written schemes as well as a BCAS written scheme template, which can be incorporated into company paperwork. A certificate of attendance is issued at the completion of the workshop.

The examination element is catered for by a five-day residential course. It provides both knowledge-based and practical hands-on modules, which include; understanding of compressed air systems and of the PSSR2000 and related standards, appreciation of non-destructive examination techniques and demonstrating practical skills in the testing of relevant safety related devices.

BCAS has also introduced a refresher course for those who currently hold certificates. The one-day course provides updates on PSSR and related standards and codes of practice, contributing to the knowledge and understanding required in the role of examiner. 

Lack of training

The current lack of formal training programmes or accreditation schemes for service engineers installing and maintaining compressed air systems is concerning. BCAS firmly believes that a nationwide compressed air apprenticeship programme, which leads to a recognised NVQ qualification that could be under-written and certificated by the society would benefit the compressed air industry and end-users. Compressed air is a vital part of the manufacturing process, its safe and efficient use should be formally recognised.

At present, in the absence of any formal training or accreditation, distributors may look to local colleges or other companies to fulfil their training needs, yet these courses are not specific enough to compressed air.

BCAS will be working hard throughout 2015 to promote the society’s training offer to encourage more members, and non-members, to enrol on courses.

The society can deliver courses using a range of methods, including online and long-distance learning, so people don't have to spend hours out of the office.

For further information on the training courses offered by BCAS, please contact Chris Dee – – or call the number below.