Over 300 delegates from 33 countries attended the first day of the European Industrial Gas Association’s Winter meeting here in Dusseldorf.

The theme was very much about safety in distribution of both liquid and cylinders across Europe. The new President of EIGA – Stefan Messer, warmly welcomed delegates to the two day conference.

Stefan Messer stated that across Europe there were too many accidents involving trucks or commercial vehicles, some of these involved gas vehicles. He confirmed EIGA’s priority is to improve the safe handling, filling and distribution of industrial gases and supported by the European Commission, the EIGA members were committed to reduce the accidents rates associated with our industry.

He went on to say that our industry does have a good record but it must continue to deliver improvement and this can be done by sharing “best practice” organised through the Association. He ended by officially opening the seminar focusing on improving safety in distribution of gases.

He handed over to Eric Fortuit of Air Liquide, who stated that the expansion of the EU from 15 to 27 States has increased the amount of commercial vehicles transporting products across the region.

Currently, transportation accounts for 25% of energy consumption in Europe. The general public expect transport to be efficient, reliable, safe and environmentally friendly. Of all goods transported in Europe, 6% is classified as dangerous goods and of that only 12% is related to the gases industry.

gasworld will provide a full report in the next edition of the magazine (March) but highlights of the first day included the revelation from Praxair that it had reduced its global roll-over cases per year across its huge fleet of road tankers by 75% in the last 3 years through focusing on causes and training.

Driver training and also improved management processes of monitoring such training were very much key drivers for successful implementation of reducing accidents.

Participation in national and European wide emergency reaction teams to advise and assist in minimising effects of accidents involving dangerous goods was also something our industry is actively pursuing.

The last presentation of the day by Christina Fry (Air Products) really brought home areas that still need to be addressed – especially related to gases (cylinders) being transported in “non-dedicated” enclosed vehicles (private cars and small delivery vans to you and me). Current legislation in Europe for the transport of gases does not address this but this is a real concern to our industry and she launched a new EIGA initiated leaflet advising customers of the proper handling conditions for cylinders.

Finally, the EIGA Symposium Chairman, Eric Fortuit presented Herman Puype with a gift for his dedication and commitment to the EIGA cause on his retirement year.