The compressed gases industry and its supply chains have been hugely impacted by coronavirus (Covid-19). As an industry, we have kept up and continuously monitored supplies to key sectors, as well as ensuring other good measures such as social distancing are in place as part of safe working.

We’re really proud that the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) members contributed towards the construction and bringing into service of the Nightingale Hospitals as part of our rapid response to the pandemic and assistance to UK Government and the NHS.

We ramped up government engagement throughout the crisis, and have been working effectively with policymakers. Below are some of the key issues the BCGA has been involved in, working on behalf of members, over the last few months.

Key workers and critical business

After the Prime Minister’s announcement in March that the UK would be entering lockdown, we contacted various government departments to ensure that BCGA members would be recognised as key workers in a critical business industry. This meant that employees would be able to continue going to work, as well as sending their children to school.

Following these announcements, we sent letters to key Ministers, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, highlighting the importance of our industry in fighting the pandemic.

We received confirmation from civil servants that our industry was seen as critical, which was a great result. We also were one of the industries chosen to receive this letter from BEIS Minister Alok Sharma MP, thanking the sector for its efforts.

Healthcare

Oxygen has been one of the principle medicines used to help patients recover, and at no time did any UK medical facilities not have supplies of oxygen, despite several media reports stating otherwise. Our members also turned over a large number of cylinders to medical oxygen duty as reserve supply.  This as a result of the massive efforts from BCGA members, who continued to work safely and effectively throughout lockdown.

Transport

BCGA has an excellent working relationship with Department for Transport (DfT), one of our two sponsoring government departments (the other one being the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). We worked closely with officials to ensure that extensions to the likes of vehicle MOTs and Drivers’ Medical Certificates would not create delays for deliveries of vital gases and equipment to hospitals.

Work with government and industry

Throughout the last few months, the BCGA has been engaging with officials on an almost daily basis - on issues ranging from the effectiveness of the 2m rule for social distancing and being selected to feed into the official workplace guidance.

We also continue to feed into Brexit developments. We have also joined two different supply chain groups, the Alliance of Chemical Associations and the REACH Cross Sector Group. These groups meet throughout the year, with regular attendance from Government officials, who can hear how the industry feels about Brexit, Coronavirus and issues impacting the sector and its supply chain. Our joining has been welcomed by Government, and these meetings are additional forums for us to continue representing our industry.

Finally, we have our Coronavirus webpage, which is updated with links to the latest Government guidance.

About the author

Ellen Daniels is Chief Executive of the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA). Negotiating the Covid-19 environment is a key priority for Daniels, as set out in her future plans for the association. Read about her vision for the future here.