Over the course of the past two days, around 25 industry professionals have taken to the EIGA (European Industrial Gases Association) stage in the name of gas distribution safety.

Under the theme of Transport Safety more than 200 delegates from 33 countries gathered at the Le Plaza Hotel in the heart of Brussels for the event, which focused on practical approaches to improving liquid bulk, package gas and homecare distribution practices, presenting state-of-the-art techniques and industry best practices.

Session five

Whilst day one focused on the vehicle, day two turned its attention to the human factor in particular, exploring driver behaviours, motivation, recognition and safety.

Christophe Meltzheim, Groupe Samat’s Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental (QHSE) Manager, opened the fifth session by revealing that within 10 years, Groupe Samat has reduced its road accident frequency by four as the company moves closer to its ‘O accident’ target.

Groupe Samat is a major player in Europe in the transport of hazardous materials by road, with operations in 12 countries and several thousand heavy vehicles with hazardous goods on the road. Meltzheim told delegates the main types of serious road accidents which have occurred since 2010 are presented, with an analysis of the various causes of these accidents. The main cause of more than 90% of these accidents remains related to the behaviours of drivers whilst driving.

His presentation provided guidance on how to act on unsafe individual’s behaviours to prevent road accidents during the transport of hazardous goods. He told delegates that Groupe Samat has developed a behavioural data management system allowing them to collect different signals of at risk behaviours. “This system of data analysis on 10 different axes allows highlighting of drivers potentially most at risk. It is then easier to target specific means and resources to work with these drivers and to prevent, as far as possible, these serious road accidents.”

“Commercial interests to one side, safety is very much at the forefront of my mind,” said Roger Wilkinson, National Transport Manager for BOC, a member of The Linde Group, as he took to the stage to investigate the approaches that can be taken to reduce slow speed manoeuvring incidents in transport.

“Across the transport industry, one of the most common and sometimes costly types of collision happens when drivers are attempting to manoeuvre in confined spaces and often at the point of delivery,” Wilkinson explained. “With varying degrees of success, assistance has been given to the driver in the form of matching vehicle specifications to the type of job being performed, specific targeted driver training, introduction of additional mirrors, vehicle sensors and camera systems. Despite the continued efforts to help the driver and prevent a slow speed incident, they continue to reoccur.”

Wikinson said further evaluation must be given to the driver’s behaviour and understanding of the drivers thought processes as the interpretation and assessment of risks presented to them is executed. He suggested in addition to the driver’s behaviour, consideration could also be given to using big data analysis to highlight, predict and mitigate an incident taking place.

Air Liquide’s Sarah Jirausch looked at how to successfully manage suppliers of dangerous goods transportation to ensure a continuously high level of performance in the essential fields of safety, quality and performance. “Organisation, employees and specific equipment are critical key success factors for a service orientated business, so keeping them safe, qualified and maintained regularly is one of the main priorities for business success. However, as much as the business relies on its own organisation, employees and equipment, it also has to rely on the suppliers to which services are outsourced,” she told delegates. “It is essential to choose safe and responsible suppliers from the very beginning, while still tendering during the procurement process.”

Anna Zimmermann, representing Hoyer Group, presented Hoyer’s approach to driver recruitment, motivation and recognition. “The oxford dictionary defines recognition as ‘appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service or ability’. HOYER defines it as ‘monetary or other benefit that employees can achieve by their level of performance’. Drivers have the most important impact on road safety and this is why we need to motivate them because only a motivated driver is a safe driver,” she stated. Zimmerman also told delegates following recent studies 70% of drivers today will retire within the next 15 years. She said this was a “major challenge” the industry would face in the next few years.

“Zimmerman also told delegates following recent studies 70% of drivers today will retire within the next 15 years. She said this was a “major challenge” the industry would face in the next few years”

Ending the session was Martin Pullman, Fleet Manager for ExxonMobil Midstream Fuels Operations in Europe and Africa. He shared ExxonMobil’s journey and experience in reducing vehicle accidents and cultivating a culture where they believe ‘zero incidents’ is achievable. By reducing the number of hauliers the company uses - ExxonMobil uses 80% fewer hauliers today compared to 2004 – Pullman said this has raised safety standards.

Driver fatigue

“If the driver falls asleep at the wheel there is a strong change he will kill somebody,” Christophe di Giulio, Technical Director at Air Liquide France Industrie, and Senior Expert for the Air Liquide Group, stressed to delegates as he opened session six. “20% of accidents on major roads are due to fatigue and fatigue related accidents are likely to result in a fatality or serious injury. 40% of sleep related accidents involve commercial vehicles. Sleeping on the motorway for a few seconds means you will travel a couple of hundred metres, far enough to cross three carriageways.” His presentation provided details of the warning signs, the causes of fatigue and ways to prevent fatigue.

Next up was Professor Claudio F. Donner who wanted to ensure delegates were aware of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), an important factor for truck drivers in road accidents.

Air Products Security Manager for Europe and Middle East, David Jackson, then switched topics to talk about vehicle security. He highlighted the potential security risks that drivers of industrial gas products could be presented with, and mitigation measures that can and are taken. “Recent events across Europe have demonstrated that the vehicles could be used in terrorist activities. This is in addition to the threats of vehicles and/or products being stolen, as well as threats to drivers. We do a pretty good job of securing our facilities with fencing, gates, access control and CCTV – do we do the same for our drivers, vehicles and products? Think about if you were trying to obtain our products unlawfully, what might be the easier target? I know what I’d pick,” he concluded.

Until now, insurance companies recorded road accidents and incidents after their occurance. Philippe Cade, HSE and Risk Manager Representative for Air Liquide Home Healthcare, rounded off the session by saying “why not work with the upstream HSE, operations and logistics teams to define together a road safety policy with common indicators and validated by everyone?”

Transport safety

The day’s final session kicked off with a joint presentation from Air Liquide’s Régis Pointeau and Freddy Godefroy who discussed the maintenance on vehicles for the safe transportation and delivery of dangerous goods. “Mechanical parts, such as brakes, tyres, king pin, suspension, chassis and lighting, all need to be checked by regular controls and be replaced when necessary. Safety features of vehicles must be checked in accordance with local regulations and recommendations from manufacturers.”

“In order to reduce the number of transport accidents, one angle of action could be to reduce the distance driven on the road,” said Fabrice Lanlais, Air Products’ Packaged Gases Supply Chain Manager for the Northern Europe Region, as he told delegates about Fret21. Fret21 is an initiative that aims to reduce freight transport’s impact on the environment. Air Products is one of 10 companies that has committed to reducing, over a period of three years, carbon dioxide emissions generated by their transport of goods.

Ewout Mol, transport company Schenk Papendrecht’s Quality, Health, Safety, Security and Environment (QHSSE) Manager, closed the event by suggesting how transport safety can be an added value for a company and not only a cost. “Safety improves quality, productivity and leads to cost leadership,” he concluded.

EIGA has begun preparations for its 2019 Winter Seminar, which will take place on the 20th and 21st of January next year in Brussels under the theme of Medical Gases – A Deep Breath.

A full review of EIGA’s 2018 Winter Seminar will be published in the upcoming March edition of gasworld magazine.