The large turnout was both a tribute to the organizers hard efforts and to the subject close to the heart of major gas companies, but also the smaller local distributors in Thailand. gasworld attended its first AIGA meeting and reports on the presentations and initiatives being undertaken by AIGA in the region.
This meeting was given an even higher profile as those attending included regional VP’s Jean-Pierre Duprieu (Air Liquide), Wilbur Mok (Air Products), Murray Corvello (Praxair) and Sanjiv Lamba (Linde Group). Hank Masuda, general secretary of JIGA and Frank Finger, general secretary of EIGA were also present. The whole event was well organised by Low Wing Keong, general secretary of AIGA.
While the above individuals were here for the AIGA and IHC meetings, most remained at the open symposium and supported the real efforts by the gas community to improve safety standards in the region. In fact, companies from as far a field as Oman, India, Philippines, China and Japan were represented.
Tom Lout, the Technical Committee chairman and director of operations of Praxair Asia, opened the symposium and welcomed guests and speakers. He introduced Mok Kwong Weng, president of AIGA, who welcomed attendees, especially those from Thailand. Mok stated that AIGA was set up 5 years ago because of a worrying trend in the region that indicated that the number of accidents related to the industrial gases business was increasing, and the remit of AIGA was to both address and reverse this.
Typical at this end of the business is the large amount of cylinder handling that takes place and hence workers were prone to injuries of various kinds. Across Asia, there are many examples of primitive use and handling of cylinders and AIGA aims to introduce good operating standards and procedures which will improve safety and reduce such accidents.
Eight speakers, including 3 from the Thai industrial gases sector, presented 10 papers on various aspects of gas cylinders safety. In line with the format adopted at previous meetings to reinforce learning at the seminar, the participants had plenty of opportunity for questions and answers with the speakers throughout workshop sessions.
After the successful experience in Shanghai last year where a number of Chinese government technical administrators attended the meeting, the organizing team was encouraged to reach out to a broader segment of the gas industry for this year’s gathering.
The local national association, the Siam Industrial Gases Association (SIGA), played a key role in the planning of the meeting. Through its coordination, invitations were extended to all in the Thai gas industry and as a result of this, over 50 participants came from the local Thai gas industry, including around 20 from the smaller distributors who are non-members of SIGA.
The importance of communicating the safety message to the local industry was accorded recognition by the presence of the director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, Ministry of Industry in Thailand, Mr Rachada Singalavanija.
In his keynote address Singalavanija said, “I share the admirable intention of the organizers to promote education and training among relevant parties, so that they are always conscious about safety when using gases under pressure. Knowledge and experience learned from the training and technical seminar like this one will help reduce the risk of tragic consequences of accidents caused by carelessness, ignorance, and the misuse of gas cylinders or equipment.”
The Thai government has been making strides to help improve the work environment in the gas industry in recent years. A number of ministerial regulations have been promulgated by the Department of Industrial Works, which include the regulation on criteria, procedures and conditions for the training of operators and the ministerial notification on regulations for the manufacture, filling, handling and use of gases.
Globalization for the gas industry is evident by the presence of the major regional associations, namely, CGA, EIGA and JIGA at the meeting. World-class practices for the gases industry are transmitted and shared among these regional bodies so that it remains consistent among the associations. Moreover, at each of the AIGA meetings, speakers are drawn from the global resources of its members to provide the best available.
Tom Lout, chairman of the AIGA Technical Committee pointed out in closing, “I am pleased with the level of participation by the local Thai industry. There are many good ideas and learning that the participants can take back with them from this meeting.”