By Rich Craig
The Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) and the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) both work to promote safety and safe operations in the welding and gases industry. We do this to ensure we are protecting the public, our employees and our facilities from the inherent hazards of our industry.
Every aspect of our industry requires respect for the products and related equipment: the containers themselves are heavy and contain gas stored at high pressures and the products present a range of hazards, including extreme cold, flammability, toxicity and asphyxiation. Delivering these products to our customers also has its challenges, from road safety to customer site safety and security. Due to the inherent hazards of these products, they are regulated by federal, state and local jurisdictions.
As a GAWDA member, you have access to numerous resources that support your capability to mitigate these hazards, implement best practices and understand the applicable regulatory requirements. The GAWDA Safety Committee produces many safety practices that cover a variety of tasks and operations typically found in an industrial gas plant, and that provide guidance on how to comply with government regulations.
Free Access to CGA Library
Since 2012, GAWDA and CGA have partnered to provide GAWDA distributor members with free access to the CGA publication library. This library contains more than 300 safety publications addressing a broad spectrum of operational and regulatory compliance issues.
This extremely valuable information can help improve your company’s overall safety performance. Applying the information in these publications to your operations also helps promote effective and appropriate regulations. If injury rates are low and getting lower, and there are no significant incidents, there is less need for regulatory action to make everyone “safe.”
Utilizing the safety information in CGA publications will also give you the opportunity to implement new lessons and best practices in your organization, potentially reducing costs related to insurance, workers compensation and labor.
$1,500 of Value
In addition to these savings, a recent analysis by GAWDA Consultant Michael Dodd estimated that the value for the publications relevant to a typical GAWDA distributor member is more than $1,500. You can see Dodd’s full presentation on the program benefits on a video accessible on YouTube (“CGA/GAWDA Subscription Program Discussion”) at: youtu.be/e9yx_sDsJa8.
Surprisingly, participation in this program isn’t as strong as we’d expect or want to see. Of more than 300 GAWDA distributor members eligible for this resource, only about 25 percent of that number participate.
Why is the participation rate low? It can’t be the cost of entry, because the program – providing immediate access to all those valuable informational materials – is free with your GAWDA membership.
Has safety performance among eligible members improved so much that access to additional safety information isn’t needed? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Safety performance for GAWDA members hasn’t improved; the aggregated lost-time injury rate remains significantly higher than for CGA members with like operations.
Is this offer “too good to be true” (like those that sometimes pop up on the internet guaranteeing high returns and no risk)? No. This partnership is approved by both GAWDA’s and CGA’s Boards of Directors. The members who take advantage of the program seem to find benefit in it. Of the companies that have participated in the program, 75 percent have renewed their participation for a second year, and many have remained in the program since they joined.
The Registration Form tells us who your company is, who will submit the OSHA data and who you want to have access to CGA publications. It only requires simple contact information.
The Awards Form describes the awards program; there is nothing you need to complete.
The New Company Safety Awards Reporting Form is a spreadsheet to enter the same data already on your OSHA 300 forms if you have 10 or more employees.
Is my company’s safety data shared with other companies? Your company’s safety information will never be shared without your explicit permission.
Aggregate data from the program is used to measure improvements in lost-time injury rates and to benchmark against industry safety trends. The data submitted is also the basis for the CGA and GAWDA Distributor Safety Award.
So why not join? You can take part in a program that can help improve your company’s safety record and result in safer work performance.
Plus Safety Awards
Another aspect of the program is the CGA and GAWDA Distributor Safety Award, which is awarded annually to two distributor member companies showing the greatest improvement in safety performance over a five-year period. The recent winners are listed in the chart on the left.
Past award recipients have commented that the CGA and GAWDA programs have helped them emphasize the importance of a safety culture within their companies. Many have reiterated the feeling that their employees are family and that sending them home safely each day is their company’s biggest priority. Receiving the prestigious CGA and GAWDA Distributor Safety Award not only acknowledges a company’s commitment to safety, it gives the company the opportunity to highlight the success and importance of their safety programs.
Finally, let me make a pitch for the GAWDA Safety Committee. As a member of this expansive, 20-person GAWDA committee, I can say how valuable and important this group’s work is to members and to the industry. The Committee is always looking for people who are interested in safety and safe operations and are willing to share their experience and knowledge with a wider audience to improve industry safety. If you have experiences and incidents you would like to share and help the GAWDA efforts, contact Chair Jim Herring. (He’s at Saf T Cart in Clarksdale, Miss., reachable at:
We at CGA hope to see you sign up for these operations-enhancing features to improve your company’s overall safety record and performance. Contact me if you’d like; I’m always happy to discuss the benefits of this program and talk over any questions you may have.
Rich Craig is the Compressed Gas Association’s technical director. He joined CGA in 2011 after retiring from Praxair. He worked at Praxair 36 years, holding positions in engineering, plant operations, plant management and as director of process safety. He has a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnatti and an MBA from Indiana University. He can be reached at: email@example.com and 703-788-2730.