Energy and enthusiasm were two words once again used to describe the BCGA Annual Conference, an event that this year spoke of ‘taming tigers’ and ‘the next generation’ in industry safety.

The 2014 gathering of the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) attracted more than 130 delegates to Worsley Park in Manchester, UK and featured a broad programme of speakers and papers.

These papers covered progress made in the fields of environment, alternative fuels, food and beverages, the misuse of drugs, and much more besides. But anyone thinking it was a simply a review of developments over the last 12 months would prove mistaken; the conference also threw down the gauntlet for a new wave of safety in the world of gases.

Further, the event represented an opportunity for BCGA members and non-members alike to network with existing contacts and make new ones - member numbers have maintained momentum in recent years and presently stand at 79, gasworld understands.

Next generation of safety

President Sylvie Villepontoux officially opened the proceedings, announcing the launch of the new BCGA website and briefly reflecting on a number of successes in metal theft campaigns, gas abuse, and various technical papers and policies – details of which then unfolded throughout the day.

Providing the first of these updates with his Technical Committee Report was BCGA Technical Manager Jake Lake.

Lake revealed that the BCGA had approved the publication of no less than 28 new or revised documents in the last year, taking the total number of documents to 86 – and counting.

Yara’s Alan Ross, also Chairman of the BCGA’s Health and Safety Advisory Group (HASAG), picked up where Lake left off and described a plethora of advances in 2013/14, before heading toward part two of his presentation, appropriately titled ‘Health and Safety: The Next Generation’.

Ross took the opportunity to question the limits of safe working practices and lay down a marker for even more stringent levels of safety in the future. He roused, “Is there more that we need to do? What are the things that we need to change or improve? What do we put in place for the next generation of line managers?”

“We’ve probably reached the limits of what our current safety and management strategies can achieve. What we have to aim for is zero accidents – zero is the ultimate goal.”

“Many will say that’s a pipe dream, not possible, even Shangri-La,” he continued. “That’s not what I say. There are plenty of companies out there that have demonstrated the sustainability of zero accidents. It is possible, it is achievable. This is one of the things we need to think about in the future – a culture of safety.”

To entertain, or not to entertain?

Stephen Bradley and David Hurren followed Ross, representing some of the association’s Sub Technical Comittees and discussing publications, papers and progress made within two of the association’s very forward-thinking areas, namely Environment and Hydrogen and Alternative Fuels.

The agenda then turned to the external keynote presentations, beginning with a presentation of Gaseous Fuels for the Automotive Sector by Ian Bacon, Technical Manager for Powertrain and Fuels at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Bacon described the roadmap for the adoption of alternative and/or advanced fuels, and the role that the gases industry will have to play in this.

Michelle Jackson, European Business Development at Air Products, explored Gases in the Food Industry and the trends and technologies in this area in Europe, while new HSE Acetylene Safety Regulations for 2014 were in the spotlight courtesy of keynote speaker Dr. Alexander Tsavalos from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Messer Group’s Danilo Ritlop followed up with an insight into the work and safety performance of EIGA’s Safety Advisory Council (SAC).

Two key talking points for the BCGA in recent years then took centre stage as Raymond Hill of the UK Government Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) discussed the misuse of drugs and chemicals, and the BBC’s very own Head of Health & Safety, Steve Gregory, discussed the BBC’s role to Inform, Educate and Entertain.

As he explained about the people and processes in place at the BBC to support programme makers, newsgatherers and live event teams in the UK and abroad, Gregory touched on the use of compressed gases in TV and radio productions and consider whether it is possible to please all of the people all of the time. In many ways, he concluded, it is not.

Explaining how it is often down to the context of the programme and how the research and safety does not always successfully come across in a broadcast, he said, “I just want to reassure you that we do understand that the area of compressed gas is not without risk…”

“You sometimes won’t even recognise when we’ve put a safety warning in place during the production of a programme. We do recognise the dangers and we try to ensure they are done safely – there are checks and balances. But I have to say that, sometimes, we have to accept that we can’t please all of the people, all of the time.”


Motivational speaker Jim Lawless provided an entertaining end to the day’s events, describing the ten rules for taming tigers; how we all often refrain from the things we wish or strive to do by the ‘tigers’ in our minds, the unofficial rules and fears that seem to govern many of our decisions.

This was a note taken forward by outgoing President Villepontoux as she aptly concluded, “Energy and enthusiasm have been all around today, there is a great community in this room to put aside competition and work together for success in our industry, and I’m delighted that the BCGA can be a catalyst for that.”

“We heard earlier today about the zero ambition and zero incidents in the industry. We have also just heard about taming tigers – let’s tame our own tigers, let’s write our own pages story, let’s continue to strive for progress in our industry’s safety.”




The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) Annual Conference is the organisation’s opportunity to showcase progress made on the issues facing the industry.

The BCGA Annual Conference 2015 will be held at the Marriott Worsley Park, Manchester on 23rd April (2015).

A full review of this year’s conference will be published in the upcoming May issue of gasworld magazine.