The elimination of accidents and injuries related to the manufacture, distribution and use of industrial and medical gases, has been vigorously pursued for almost a century and this worldwide effort has been sponsored and led by organisations formed voluntarily within the industry.
Associations exist in most industrialised countries with the oldest by far being the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) of America, formed in 1913.
Gas manufacturers, together with producers of gas cylinders, regulators, valves and other gas supply and control equipment are eligible for membership. Affiliated associations in Europe, Britain, China, India, Australasia, Asia, Japan, South Africa and Korea all enjoy access to the CGA’s resources.
From the outset, technical standards and safe practices were seen as the keys to maintaining a safe industry. The knowledge and expertise available among the membership has enabled the industry to contribute in the formulation of legislation that regulates their operating environment. In no small measure this has ensured that unnecessary or inappropriate external controls are avoided and therefore helped to construct safe and efficient production systems at minimum cost.
The European gas industry
The European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) is a safety, quality and technically oriented organisation representing the vast majority of European and also non-European companies, producing and distributing industrial, medical and food grade gases.
This organisation was formed by the merging of the Commission Permanente Internationale (CPI) with the European Dry Ice Association (EDIA) in 1989 and named EIGA in 1991.
EIGA fully co-operates with regional industrial gas associations around the world such as AIGA (Singapore), ANZIGA (Australia/New Zealand), CGA (US), JIMGA (Japan), SACGA (South Africa), which are all associated members to EIGA.
Consistency of approach between EIGA and the national industrial gas associations is imperative for the international gas industry to speak with a single voice.
In a similar manner to the CGA, EIGA provides authorities across Europe with professional advice in the preparation of laws and regulations concerning gases and pressure equipment.
The technical expertise of EIGA is applied through the formation of Working Groups (WGs) that are typically composed of a chairperson and a number of experts from the participating member companies of the gas industry all over Europe. Twelve Working Groups are active at present, focusing on: Safety, Transport, Gas Cylinders and Pressure Vessels, Process & Process Equipment, Specialty Gases, Environment, Cryogenic Vessels, Medical Gases, Food Gases and CO2, Classification-Labelling and Safety Data Sheets, Homecare & Hydrogen Energy.
In case of a widespread and recurring problem for our industry and its customers, the Industrial Gases Council (IGC), one of the EIGA Working Groups (WG) or the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) may decide to launch a campaign, to raise the awareness of all those at risk.
The first campaign; (Campaign against Asphyxiation), was launched by EIGA in January 2003 followed by a second campaign highlighting the hazards of oxygen enrichment in January 2005. The third campaign; (Transporting Gas Cylinders or Cryogenic Receptacles in ‘Non-Dedicated’ Vehicles) was launched in 2008.
The UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, also referred to as Model Regulations, were first produced by the Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1956 and version 16 (2009) is currently in circulation.
They cover the transportation of dangerous goods by all modes of transport except by bulk tanker, their classification, their listing, use and construction; testing and approval of packaging and portable tanks; and consignment procedures such as marking, labelling, placarding and documentation.
These are not obligatory or legally binding on individual countries, but have gained a wide degree of international acceptance and form the basis of several international agreements and many national laws. The UN Economic and Social Council recommends to all Governments and international organisations concerned to take account of these Model Regulations when elaborating national transport regulations.
The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), was introduced during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janerio, Brazil in 1992.
With the culmination of more than a decade of work by multidisciplinary experts, the GHS was adopted in 2002 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Subcommittee of Experts on the GHS (UNSCEGHS) and endorsed by United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2003.
The GHS has the ultimate goal of providing a comprehensive and universal tool for chemical classification and hazard communication, to be made available to workers, consumers and public. The GHS will be a non-binding agreement, similar to UN Recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods. Countries and sectors within countries will decide whether and how to implement.
ISO/TC 58 gas cylinders
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a network of the national standards institutes of 163 countries and the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards.
The foremost aim of international standardisation is to facilitate the exchange of goods and services through the elimination of technical barriers to trade.
The standard manufacturing procedure first requires the design to be authorised by the authorities in the country where the cylinder is going to be used, then the cylinders are inspected and tested by an inspector authorised in that country. These cylinders then cannot normally be used in any other country unless inspected & tested again, or given an exemption based on previous inspection and testing.
Filled cylinders may sometimes be transported to a customer in another country, but only for use of the received gas and may not be filled again unless transported back to the country of origin. There is a need to establish schemes for free circulation of pressure receptacles.
Generally accepted international standards should lead to more uniform designs of pressure receptacles and their fittings for various purposes. This would facilitate first inspection procedures and the free circulation of cylinders over the borders.