The International Harmonization Council (IHC) comprising representatives from the major regional industrial gases associations concluded their 21st IHC meeting in Pattaya, Thailand on 28th & 29th August. The focus of these four core associations (AIGA, CGA, EIGA and JIGA) are safety, health and environmental issues. This session was hosted by the Asia Industrial Gases Association (AIGA, based in Singapore) on the back of its AGM.
Besides the full turn-out of IHC members, Jean-Pierre Duprieu of Air Liquide, the new chairman of the IOMA Global Committee who attended the meeting for the first time reiterated the Global Committee’s role to stimulate, motivate and accelerate the important work of achieving more harmonization within the global gas industry.
The main agenda items for the Council were the review of and the status of current active harmonized documents (global) and the discussion of new projects.
Making progress in such harmonisation projects is vital for the global industry but so is the recognition that new projects need to be generated to maintain safety within the industry. New projects need to take into account preceding incidents, regulatory and legal issues, as well as the availability and adequacy of existing guidelines on various subjects. New projects approved at the IHC Meeting are based on consensus of all the associations and will then be submitted to the IOMA Global Committee for approval.
The new direction of the IHC is to have early collaboration among the associations in the form of joint working groups (WG) for all future projects. Duprieu fully supported the joint WG process concept as it will force the proper co-ordination needed within the companies worldwide and to help avoid any late feedback that will slow down the adoption of these standards by all parties.
Altogether seven new projects were approved for submission to the IOMA Global Committee which met in Barcelona in mid-October 2007. Another nine projects, with the potential to evolve into active projects were also agreed upon. Furthermore, the council continued to update the work process documentation for harmonization and discussed the subject of a common copyright understanding among IHC members.
Duprieu said in conclusion, “I am very pleased with the number of projects that were approved and the additional projects in the queue. I come away from this meeting with a positive view of the work that is being accomplished.”
The 21st IHC meeting closed on a nostalgic note as Herman Puype, the deputy general secretary and technical director at EIGA, attended the IHC meeting for the last time. Puype has served the industry with distinction for many years and has been involved with the IHC work for 10 years. Another IHC member, Herman Follens of the EIGA team, also attended for the last time as he will be stepping down as IGC chairman in EIGA.
The IHC recorded a vote of thanks to both gentlemen for their service and contribution representing EIGA. In their place the IHC welcomes Andrew Webb, the incoming deputy general secretary and Eric Fortuit, the incoming IGC chairman.