THE BRITISH Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) held its annual technical & safety gathering of the UK industrial gases community in April, delivering an array of topical tidings.

Matthias Kuhn, President of the Association, welcomed over 140 delegates to the conference and stated that while the gases industry in the UK faced challenging times, the various Technical Committees among the BCGA had continued to deliver results towards better safety in the use & transport of gases.

Kuhn highlighted how the association had achieved good progress with such safety measures in a number of sectors over the past year.

Most notable however, was the success that both the BCGA and the gases companies had experienced in working with the Fire Service, in developing an understanding of how to handle acetylene cylinders that had been exposed to fire.

Kuhn welcomed Sir Ken Knight – CBE, Chief Fire & Rescue Adviser – and Robert Stratton-Brown of BOC, who jointly delivered the findings of 2-3 years consultation & testing of acetylene cylinders following exposure to fire.

gasworld has covered this topic in our April issue (page 48) but in short, the work of the BCGA and the Fire Service of London has lead to a full and proper understanding of how acetylene cylinders should be identified and treated if exposed to fires – resulting in much shorter disruption to the public and services in the future.

Sir Ken gave some examples where major transport hubs (railway stations) in London had to be closed for 48 hours, due to the poor identification process and ‘old’ methods of cooling down acetylene cylinders for 48 hours.

It is hoped that a reduction in the period of disruption can be achieved beyond just London, to more than 50 fire services across the UK and eventually, in Europe too.

Working together
Various Technical Committee heads presented some of the latest work undertaken, while TSC 5 Chairman David Hopper presented an interesting overview of the development of the REACH programme for the gases business – which will take nine years to complete, but is necessary for delegates to be aware of and participate in.

Hopper stated how important it is that industry works together to achieve effective REACH deliverables and standardise product knowledge and labelling across Europe, and eventually around the world.

Gas Safe’s Terry Broughton provided an excellent presentation on ‘Safety Training within the Gases Industry’ and showed examples of how it is all too easy to get it wrong, with nasty consequences. With proper training programmes and common-sense however, the industry can continue to improve its current highly respectable safety record.

Sustained innovation
During his opening speech, Matthias Kuhn highlighted the role of innovation and referred to the recent gasworld interview with John Raquet of Spiritus Consulting, quoting how the gases industry is robust and “will not stagnate as we are an industry of innovation and we will continue to grow through technology and gas developments”.

Upholding this train of thought, well known BBC journalist Peter Day took to the stage with his speech about ‘Reinventing the Future’ and reinforced the message of evolution for our industry. Innovation, he went on to say, “is something you have to do.”

Day cited how the UK only spent 5% of the worldwide budget on R&D, yet occupied 12% of the published pages to discuss them. He also stated the importance of marrying the innovative people within an organisation with effective marketing to be successful.

After an eventful day of insights, encouragement and forward thinking, the conference closed with a motivating presentation from Steve Head – noting how managers have to identify those within their organisation that need support, in order to inspire others to maximise performance.

The evening’s Gala Dinner was well attended and entertained by an attractive quartet of ladies named Siren, offering a mix of traditional classics with a new trend to popular classic sounds.

BCGA Director Doug Thornton and the entire BCGA team managed to attract a large audience, despite the pressures for cut-backs and the challenging times we find ourselves in.

The association continues to emphasise the importance of safety, a message which is ever-growing across the country thanks to its efforts. Hats off to the BCGA!