For Philippe Cornille, General Secretary of the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA), the two mega trends from the 2020 industrial gas year are saving lives under Covid-19 and hydrogen.

“As a major treatment intervention for patients with severe Covid-19, medical oxygen demand in hospitals in Europe has risen to unprecedented levels. This illustrates how instrumental ‘our’ oxygen has been, and how the medical gases sector was able to ensure and ramp up the supply of life-saving medical oxygen,” Cornille highlighted.

“The second mega trend relates to hydrogen, and its anticipated central role in the European Green Deal. Hydrogen is indeed more and more expected to play a key role in Europe’s ambitious decarbonisation goals.”

“The industrial gases sector has plenty of expertise to offer in the development a more hydrogen-based society.”

As the pandemic continues, EIGA has taken the decision to hold its Winter Seminar virtually in January, but the programme and dates remain the same, as Cornille tells us more about below.

gasworld (GW): On 27th and 28th January, EIGA will virtually hold its Winter Seminar, the theme of which is Behavioural Safety. What can attendees look forward to from this two-day event?

Philippe Cornille (PC): The industrial and medical gases industry has a good safety performance. However, incidents and injuries still happen, typically in transport, in cylinder handling, and with slips, trips and falls. Behavioural Safety is one of the most relevant causes for these injuries, as well as being a contributing factor in rare major accidents.

The EIGA virtual Winter Seminar 2021 on behavioural Safety will:

  • Demonstrate the influence on safety performance
  • Explain the psychological aspects, considering the newest knowledge in neuroscience
  • Present innovative training methodologies
  • Share best practices in behavioural Safety management
  • Suggest how to promote a Safety Culture
  • Highlight the importance of leadership behaviour

We are proud to present top speakers on these subjects. We expect a broader participation because of the ease of joining a virtual seminar. Please visit our website for more detail.

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GW: How has EIGA supported the industry this year as it fought, and continues to fight, to save lives in the battle against Covid-19?

PC: EIGA organises frequent conference call meetings with our members to stay abreast with the fast-changing Covid-19 situation and measures implemented by national authorities.

Our industry continues participating in the bi-weekly meetings with the European Medicines Agency Steering Group: “Weekly update from EU Industry Trade Associations on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the supply of medicines in the Union/EEA. Report to the EU Executive Steering Group of Shortages of Medicines caused my major events.’’

They define the measures needed to assure supply of medicines to the market and as such they advise directly the EU Commission.

During the second wave, EIGA has intensified our meetings around the Medical Gas Council and continues working with the National Gas Association. EIGA has published several useful documents and review which may need to be adapted and re-published.

Following documents on Covif-19 were published for our members

  • BN25 on proposed regulatory flexibility measures
  • BN26 on sanitising gas packages
  • BN27 on the use of medical devices
  • TB35 on the periodic inspection and testing of gas packages

GW: Are there any lessons learned from the pandemic that you can share with our readers?

PC: Industry actions and authority decisions jointly allowed a continuous supply of medical oxygen, saving lives every single day.

Challenges included insufficient installed oxygen capacities in hospitals, medical oxygen cylinders shortages, continuity of critical staffing, red tape in transport, but all of these were overcome.

Competent Authorities and medical gases industry reacted timely, and never compromised on safety for users and patients.

GW: What future do you see for the gases market in Europe?

PC: The European Green Deal will push for more and more low carbon productions. This will impact both our production as well as our customer’s production.

Europe is currently drafting a panoply of climate and energy legislation that is directly relevant for our sector, either because the electricity intensity of our air separating units, or because of the carbon intensity of our steam methane reforming units.

GW: Finally, in the spirit of the time of year and theme of the series, if you could have one industrial gases related thing for Christmas, what would it be and why?

PC: Definitely safety! The industrial gases sector can present good safety statistics, but further improvement would really make me happy.

I hope that extending the safety library with a first eLearning module on oxygen safety will contribute too. The eLearning is free for all and offers a tiered module to address the needs from non-specialists and gas experts alike.

A Christmas Twist: The 12 Days of Content series continues tomorrow with an exclusive interview with Harris Products Group.