CATEC training : Certificate of Ability to Work in Confined Spaces

The CATEC® system is a response to the desire of those involved in the field of drinking water treatment and sanitation to create a common base of skills integrating good practices in risk prevention during operations in confined spaces. It concerns both the interveners, who must know and master the risks and know how to execute the procedures of alert, rescue and evacuation, and the supervisors who assist and follow the operations from start to finish. 

Our CATEC Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  1. The Ventis MX4 portable 4-gas detector is very popular with confined space workers (see CATEC training). It detects explosive gases (0-100% LEL), lack of oxygen (O2), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). It can be used in diffusion mode or remote gas sampling mode with the optional VSP clip-on pump.

    • ATEX 4-gas detector: Explosive gases (0-100% LEL), O2, CO, H2S, NO2 or SO2 sensors too
    • 95 dB audible, visual and vibrating alarms for two thresholds, STEL and TWA (Threshold Limit Value and Average Exposure Value)
    • Very robust, shockproof, water and dust resistant (IP66 and IP67
    • Small and compact: first multi-gas detector of the size of a single gas
    • Optional VSP clip-on pump for remote gas sampling up to 30 m
  2. The X-am 2500 portable 4-gas detector (explosive gases 0-100% LEL, O2, CO & H2S) has been designed especially for industry, sanitation, public works, or interventions in confined spaces (CATEC). It is a versatile, high-performance device with an excellent quality/price ratio guaranteeing a high level of safety with low operating costs.

    • Portable ATEX 4-gas detector for explosive gases detection (0-100% LEL), O2, CO, and H2S, can also receive NO2 or SO2 sensors
    • Large LCD: easy navigation, comfortable reading of gas concentrations
    • Ergonomic design, robust, water and dust proof (IP67)
    • Long-life T4 NiMH battery (less than 4 hours charge time)
    • Optional clip-on pump for remote gas sampling up to 30 m
  3. The M20.2 self-rescue mask - well known by users who take wastewater treatment training - is the smallest and the lightest autonomous device on the market. Compact and ergonomic, it can be worn without discomfort on the belt and is popular for emergency escape in confined spaces, in sanitation and water treatment.

    • Self-rescue compressed oxygen mask for emergency evacuations in confined spaces or highly polluted environments
    • The most compact and lightest self-contained evacuation device on the market with a weight of less than 1 kg
    • Duration of use : 15 years with reconditioning every 5 years
    • Duration of use in escape / standby: 15-20 minutes / 32 minutes
    • Fast set-up time, less than 10 seconds
  4. Chemical oxygen self-rescue masks are quick and easy to handle even in the most extreme conditions. With a very comfortable mouthpiece, they are lightweight, compact and feature low breathing resistance. 2 versions are available, one with a breathing air autonomy of 30 minutes (Oxy 3000) or 60 minutes (Oxy 6000).

    • Self-rescue masks with 30 or 60 minutes of autonomy for emergency evacuations in highly polluted environments
    • Duration of use: 10 years without maintenance or particular reconditioning (the most economic of the market in time)
    • One-handed opening mechanism for both left and right-handed users
    • Two models available: 30 or 60 minutes of breathable air
    • Antistatic materials (ideal if there is a risk of explosion)

  5. Especially designed for industrial applications, the R-PAS kit breathing apparatus combines reliability, performance and comfort of use. Composed of a complete mask, a compressed air cylinder, a fireproof harness and a new generation pneumatic system, the R-PAS kit is delivered in its transport and storage case.

    • High performance breathing apparatus delivered in a transport and storage case
    • High security level : conforms to EN 137 2006 Type 2, MED and SOLAS II-2
    • Fireproof and chemical resistant harness
    • Supply hoses and manometer integrated into the harness
    • Panoramic mask with wide visual field

  6. The PSS 3000 is a high performance self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for firefighters. Combining great comfort with exceptional pneumatic performance, it is designed for applications requiring both simplicity and ease of use. Lightweight, highly resistant and easy to put on, this sophisticated breathing apparatus offers reliable protection.

    • High performances self-contained breathing apparatus (OC-SCBA) for firefighters and people working in fiery environment
    • High technology protective harness resistant to tears and abrasion, durable bib
    • Lightweight, shock-resistant and antistatic frame, strong and fireproof strap
    • Impact resistant rubber protection of the manometer
    • Large choice of possible configurations
  7. The VIT’O TEC safety harness is specially designed for all types of work in confined spaces, particularly in the framework of the CATEC® measures (french Certificate of ability to work in confined spaces). It has a back attachment with a very practical strap and two sternal hooking points with strap rings. It also has a specific ergonomic belt for wearing the self-rescue mask.

    • Fall arrest and rescue harness for interventions in confined spaces in the framework of the CATEC measures
    • Sternal attachment on 2 strap rings also used for rescue operations and dorsal attachment on metal D
    • Automatic buckle and closure indicator adjusting the thigh straps and belt
    • Large polypropylene back plate for easy cleaning
    • Easy sliding of the self-rescue mask from back to front
  8. The NTREALU2 safety tripod is a transportable temporary anchoring device that is quick and easy to set up. The additional anchor points under the head allow the attachment of a winch and/or pulleys for automatic fall arrest and rescue system. The bases are linked by a strap that ensures the rigidity of the system regardless of the wheelbase.

    • Safety tripod for work in confined spaces: access to underground pipes, manholes, tanks, silos
    • Reinforced aluminum telescopic legs equipped with a non-slip pin for use on slippery surfaces
    • Strap to maintain the legs for better stability of the unit
    • Adjustable height from 1472 to 2295 mm with a load capacity of 200 kg
    • Complies with EN 795 (anchorage devices) and EN 1496 (rescue devices)
  9. Compact and lightweight, the UB20 air exhaust fan - also called COBRA fan - is the reference for confined space ventilation systems in the water and wastewater sector. Reversible, it brings up to 1,392 m3/h of fresh and healthy air in the duct in poorly ventilated, oxygen-poor, or potentially toxic areas.

    • Industrial air exhaust fan for intervention in confined spaces in compliance with the CATEC device
    • Numerous accessories are available: charger + battery pack, ducts, connection sets, turbo-torque, heating system, etc.
    • Double-walled body made of high-density, impact-resistant polypropylene
    • Plastic carrying handle for easy handling
    • Quiet operation of 74 dB

  10. The UB20xx is an ATEX exhaust fan (COBRA ATEX fan) designed for use in potentially hazardous environments with a risk of explosion. It is particularly suitable for operations in chemical and petrochemical industries, mills and silos, biogas plants, public dumpsites, and water purification and treatment plants.

    • ATEX high-pressure exhaust fan for ventilation or extraction of air in explosive atmospheres
    • Safe switch in explosion-proof housing to avoid risks during ignition
    • IP55 antistatic ABS housing with glass fiber reinforcement and carbon lining
    • Weatherproof, shockproof, fireproof, and chemical resistant
    • 1 392 m3/h flow rate in the open air, 1 025 m3/h with 7.6 m duct + one right angle

Confined spaces, risks and dangers 

Confined spaces are present in many sectors of activity and many employees are concerned. The majority of accidents, often serious or even lethal, which occur during interventions in these environments are linked to an oxygen deficient atmosphere, to the presence of toxic gases or vapors or even to an explosion or a fire. These are therefore the first risks to be assessed when developing a work procedure: 

  • Anoxia or asphyxia: temporary or permanent absence of oxygen that can lead to death 
  • Intoxication: intoxication is characterized by the inhalation or absorption of a toxic gas or product that can cause death 
  • Explosion and fire: the presence of gas or dust can create risks of fire and explosion 

In addition, in the treatment of drinking water and sanitation, there are other serious risks such as falls or drowning.

The CATEC training 

The R.447 recommendation adopted by the National Technical Committee of Transport, Water, Gas and Electricity, during its meeting of June 25, 2009, which deals with the prevention of accidents during work in confined spaces, emphasizes the "need to train personnel in the prevention of damage and health risks, according to similar prevention and intervention organization schemes". 

The CATEC® training system: Certificate of Ability to Work in Confined Spaces in the drinking water and sanitation sector, is composed on one side of a reference system of competences on the basis of which the training will be built and provided, and on the other side of a system responding to the need to qualify the competences acquired during the training course. 

This system provides the company manager with : 

  • Markers enabling it to deliver the authorizations necessary to carry out interventions in confined spaces (basically in the field of drinking water and sanitation) ; 
  • Assistance for the implementation of personnel training, which is mandatory ; 
  • The list of training organizations authorized to provide CATEC® training

It is divided into two types of training to best meet the expectations of operators with a shared base and a specificity for each category, the workers and supervisors:

CATEC® training for workers

The CATEC® intervener certification validates the skills, knowledge, and users' know-how in confined spaces. The main objectives of this training are as follows:

  • To master the procedures before any intervention
  • Identify the specific risks related to the characteristics of confined spaces
  • To know how to use safety equipment such as portable multi-gas detectors (the 4-gas detector in this case), self-rescue masks, fall arrest harnesses associated with ancillary equipment (safety tripods, fall arresters, safety lanyards, etc.), air extraction fans and to know how to check their proper functioning
  • Master the procedures for evacuating the confined space

CATEC® Supervisor Training

The CATEC® supervisor certification includes the entire basic foundation of the CATEC® training. It validates the skills, knowledge, and know-how required to perform the role of supervisor:

  • Ensure a constant presence and maintenance of the conditions of the intervention until the team members are brought back up.
  • To master the alert and rescue procedures.

CATEC - Prevention PPE  

In order to ensure the health and safety of workers required to work in a confined space, the employer must establish a procedure for this type of work. This procedure will define, at a minimum, the work organization specifically adapted to these interventions, the instructions to be followed and the safety precautions and equipment to be implemented. This procedure can be adapted and completed according to the specificities of the work sites. 

A minimum level of equipment is required to work in confined spaces, including the most common (non-exhaustive list):

4-gas detector

This is the ultimate multigas detector and the model most commonly used in drinking water treatment, sanitation, public works, and confined space interventions. The 4-gas detector simultaneously detects explosive gases (natural gas, LPG, hydrocarbons, alcohols and solvents), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen (or rather the lack of oxygen).

Self-rescuer masks

Self-rescuing masks are self-contained breathing apparatus for emergency evacuation in non-breathable, oxygen-deficient or extremely toxic environments. They are closed-circuit emergency escape devices (ICES). This means that exhaled air is filtered and supplemented with oxygen via a small cylinder of pure oxygen (compressed oxygen self-rescue mask) or a cartridge of potassium superoxide KO2 (chemical oxygen self-rescue mask).
They are particularly required in case of lack of oxygen, or when the concentration of a pollutant is too high to be filtered efficiently, such as very high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide. It is the device of choice for emergency evacuations in confined spaces.

Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)  

In extreme cases and emergency situations, SCBAs are also part of the toolbox for confined space workers. In contrast to self-rescue masks, they can be used for on-site intervention or for help and rescue operations. 

They are composed of three essential and indivisible elements that form a whole: a harness, a complete mask and a compressed air cylinder. They have an autonomy of up to 70 minutes for those equipped with a 9-liter compressed air cylinder at 300 bars (based on a consumption of 40 l/min.).

Fall protection equipment 

Confined spaces are not exempt from the risks of falling from heights and fall protection equipment is a necessary addition to the list of CATEC PPE. To ensure the smooth running of interventions in water treatment and sanitation, it is often useful to have a tripod, a basic anchor point for the safety harness of the worker when entering wells or manholes. 

Other fall protection equipment completes the panoply of workers, such as fall arrest systems, automatic return reels, connection and energy absorption systems, life lines, etc.

Fans and air extractors 

In the presence of important sources of pollution (air poor in oxygen, significant presence of toxic, asphyxiating or explosive gases), the choice of sanitation technique of the confined space is the dilution by the use of fans / air extractors. This technique can be achieved in two ways:

  • Ventilation: To dilute toxic gases and vapors and provide clean and healthy air throughout the intervention of the people in charge of the intervention;
  • Extraction: to evacuate dust, fumes and toxic gases from the confined space. However, it is important to choose an ATEX extractor when there is a potential risk of explosion (very high concentrations of dust or flammable gases).

It should be noted that if the fresh air ventilation solution allows to sanitize a larger area than the stale air extraction solution, it can however contribute to move the pollutants to a clean area.


Other personal protective equipment not mentioned above are also essential, such as clothing adapted to the working conditions, protective helmets with individual lighting and means of communication. In addition to this PPE, marking equipment for work on public roads and protective devices around open manholes are essential for safe work.