Year-end technical stop: train to work safely

As mentioned in the previous issue of the Bulletin (see here), the accelerators are currently undergoing maintenance as part of the year-end technical stop (YETS). Hundreds of people are working simultaneously on different machines, and many of them need to be trained in order to work safely underground. From a Safety Training point of view, this has resulted in a significant increase in training requests, most of them at the last minute, which are now being handled – but not without difficulties. 


 In the LHC mock-up, a helium leak is simulated. In this stressful situation, the trainees learn how to put their mask on in less than 40 seconds.

"The most requested course is the Self-Rescue Mask classroom training,” explains Christoph Balle, Safety Training Section Leader. “In this course, people are trained to face the oxygen deficiency hazards that may occur in CERN's underground areas, learning how to put on the mask correctly and how to evacuate safely in the event of an emergency.” Being able to use the mask is mandatory in the underground areas of the LHC complex (SPS, LHC tunnel, experiments, etc.), so people going underground must have followed either the “Initial” (valid for three years) or the “Refresher” course in order to gain access.

“We kindly ask project leaders, supervisors, work coordinators and individuals to anticipate access needs, and therefore their training requests, as early as possible, ideally at least a month in advance,” says Christoph. This will allow the Safety Training section to meet the increasing training needs for the YETS, and to manage their future training course offerings more efficiently.

Learners appreciate the quality of this course which, thanks to the limited number of people allowed per session (12 maximum), enables the trainer to really focus on the practical part of the course. “This ensures that people are well-trained and will be able to respond appropriately to emergencies and stressful situations,” continues Christoph. “As we want to guarantee the same level of training for all our trainees, we can’t increase the number of people allowed per session. Thus, in order to cope with the recent high demand, we instead have to increase the number of sessions per week from the usual two to five.”

“From our point of view, this can make it difficult to handle last-minute requests, as there is important – and often underestimated – work that has to be done in order to organise, manage and guarantee the quality of each and every session,” says Christoph. Course coordinators have to book rooms, make sure technicians are available on the training site, check the availability of the trainers, and send invitations to the attendees… for every session.

“I would like to stress that all of our internal trainers – 20 for the Self-Rescue Mask course – are volunteers,” says Christoph. “They can’t be replaced by external personnel due to CERN-specific safety issues. They know the subject very well, as they often work under the same conditions for which they train people. I would like to thank all of them for their commitment, professionalism, flexibility and availability even at very short notice.” 

 “To conclude on a lighter note,” says Christoph, “I’d like to mention that we recently celebrated the 100th session led by Aniello Russo – one of our Self-Rescue Mask trainers. We are proud of such commitment and we’re looking forward to celebrating the next trainer’s 100th session.”

by Rosaria Marraffino