CEO’s Update: CGA’s Essential Work Continues

June 26, 2020
Updated: July 1, 2020

Editor’s Note: in the article below, our CEO Rich Gottwald promises that we will soon provide a full schedule and details for CGAConnect 2020, our online event series. That information has now been published and may be accessed here.

The global spread of COVID-19 and its ongoing impacts have required all of us to respond with courage, creativity, and resilience. Now, more than ever, we must work together, to serve the needs of customers, while striving to keep employees, vendors, end-users, and all others across our supply chains, safe.

Like many organizations, the pandemic has forced the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) to shift how we operate. As the risks and challenges of COVID-19 have ratcheted up since the beginning of the year, we have endeavored to provide industry leadership, while adopting new ways to effectively get our work done and best serve our members and the industry as a whole.

In the following article, I share some of the important strides forward we at CGA have made in recent months, with the support of our member companies and your dedicated employees.

Rich Gottwald
President & CEO, Compressed Gas Association

Strategic Focus

In spite of the pandemic, CGA continues to make exciting progress on a number of objectives from our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Here are a few examples.

Developing Future Subject Matter Experts in Support of CGA Work

Late last year, we launched the new Young & Emerging Professionals Committee, in support of professionals new to CGA (those aged 45 or under), to help them actively engage with CGA activities and initiatives, while growing their leadership skills and technical expertise.

This new committee has attracted active participation from young professionals across CGA’s membership, individuals who are full of energy, fresh ideas, and a strong commitment to safety. Working together, they have already planned an innovative Young & Emerging Professionals Summit – a 12-part webinar series to be spread over six weeks in the fall of 2020.

We will publish a full event calendar and details about the Summit soon, so look for more announcements about this ground-breaking event series in the coming days.

Growing CGA’s Library of Educational Materials & Programs

We have continued to add to our product line of posters and safety resources targeted to users who need additional assistance interacting with our industry’s products. Specifically, in addition to the Home Oxygen Safety and Liquid Nitrogen Safety online resource centers and free end user safety posters launched early in 2020, we also published two new, free medical oxygen supply chain posters to our COVID-19 online industry toolkit this spring.

We understand that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, medical oxygen suppliers will need to closely communicate with your healthcare facility customers so that together, you can monitor the situation and reallocate resources as necessary to respond to spikes in demand.

CGA’s medical oxygen supply chain posters – one focused on wall connections and another focused on cylinders – communicate three critical steps that healthcare providers can take to support the medical oxygen supply chain:

  1. Understand their medical gas supply system needs and capabilities
  2. Manage medical gas container inventory
  3. Clean their medical gas containers

CGA’s new Medical Oxygen Cylinder Poster

The posters are designed so that suppliers can add your contact information to each poster, before sharing them with your healthcare customers. Each poster also includes a link to the safety publication, CGA P-83, Guidelines for Cleaning Externally Contaminated Medical Gas Containers, which is available for free, convenient download from our public website (no member login required).

In addition to these end user safety posters, CGA continues to develop additional educational tools and resources, including two new eLearning modules currently in development:

  • CGA TM-7, eLearning: Introduction to Compressed Gas Cylinder Valves
  • CGA TM-8, eLearning: Oxygen Safety

Advocating for CGA Members at the State/Provincial Level

On October 23, 2019, CGA received word that Minnesota would change their license fees for medical gas manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors operating within, or bringing medical gas into, Minnesota. The fees were to increase from $185 to $5,260. $5,000 of the new license fee was earmarked to assist Minnesota with recovery of costs associated with the opioid crisis. The fee would be charged to all drug companies operating in the state.

Further, members of CGA and the Gases & Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) were notified they would be required to pay for two licenses if they filled medical gases and distributed other firms’ medical gases – leading to a total cost of $10,520 for a single facility.

CGA and GAWDA assembled a list of member facilities currently licensed by Minnesota and calculated that the total cost of fees for the 37 in-state facilities (holding 47 licenses) and the 31 out-of-state facilities (holding 43 licenses), would grow to $473,400 under the new licensing regime, from the current $16,650 – representing an increase of over 2,800%.

Implementation of the new fee structure was set for June 1, 2020. In early 2020, CGA began working with industry partners to engage with Minnesota state lawmakers, requesting that a correction be made to the opioid bill during the 2020 January through May legislative session. CGA and GAWDA members also testified before a state House Committee hearing on this issue. As the COVID-19 crisis began to take center stage, CGA provided information about the importance of medical gases in the fight against the pandemic.

On March 26, 2020, a new state bill was passed and signed, which:

  • Kept licensure fees at $5,260 for medical gas manufacturers and wholesalers for the first facility (reduced to $260 for each additional facility)
  • Reduced licensure fees for medical gas dispensers (those that only retail directly to home patients) to $260

In addition, it was announced that each facility would be required to hold only one license.

While there is more work to be done, we made significant progress on this issue. Industry will now pay a total of $127,680/year in opioid and license fees, reduced from the original $473,000/year in fees announced in October 2019. Equally important: CGA and GAWDA have offered our associations as resources for state officials to call on when considering future action.

“While there is more work to be done, we made significant progress on this issue. Industry will now pay a total of $127,680/year in opioid and license fees, reduced from the original $473,000/year in fees announced in October 2019.”

Leading through Challenging Times

Since the early days of the pandemic in North America, we at the Compressed Gas Association have taken ongoing action, coordinating with our members as well as government agencies in the U.S. and Canada, and sharing new resources to aid in our industry’s fight against COVID-19. We will continue in that fight as long as needed.

On March 26, 2020, we launched our online toolkit to aid in the industry’s COVID-19 response. In the toolkit, we provide news, resources, links, and other critical information related to COVID-19, to assist all members of the industrial, medical, and food gases industry in your response efforts during this pandemic.

The toolkit includes content focused on U.S. and Canada government news and resources at the federal, state/province, and local levels, as well as CGA news and resources. We will continue updating and expanding the toolkit in the coming months, as critical information becomes available. We will also continue to publish our dedicated COVID-19 email news brief for members, as the need arises.

In addition, CGA offers a number of publications that provide guidance on topics related to the industry’s response to the pandemic, including three new, free Safety Alerts published this spring:

Cylinder & Container Cleaning Guidelines

CGA P-83, Guidelines for Cleaning Externally Contaminated Medical Gas Containers

CGA SA-35, Safety Alert, Cleaning of Cylinders Returned from Healthcare Facilities During a Pandemic

Change of Service Guidelines

CGA C-10, Guideline to Prepare Cylinders and Tubes for Gas Service and Changes in Gas Service

CGA M-18, Standard for the Change of Product and Change of Grade for High Pressure and Refrigerated Liquid Containers

CGA SA-36, Safety Alert, Cylinder and Cryogenic Container Issue Related to Cylinder Conversion and Filling During the COVID-19 Crisis (1st ed)

Supply Systems

CGA SA-37, Safety Alert, Medical Oxygen Supply System Issues During the COVID-19 Crisis (1st ed)

Repositioning CGA’s 2020 Events

It’s imperative during these challenging times, that we adopt new ways of working together and learning from each other, in order to advance our collective safety mission.

To that end, we announced recently that all remaining CGA meetings, seminars, committee meetings, and other in-person events for the remainder of 2020 will transition to an online format.

Today, I’m excited to announce CGAConnect, our 2020 online event series. With more than 20 webinars, online meetings (including the CGA Canada Annual Meeting), and seminars (including the Safety & Reliability of Industrial Gases, Equipment, and Facilities Seminar, and the Specialty Gases Technical & Safety Seminar) scheduled through the end of the year, we will be offering a full slate of virtual events to advance members’ technical knowledge and foster cross-industry collaboration and networking.

Stay tuned, as full details on specific events, dates, and times will be released soon.

(Details and a full calendar have now been released and may be found on the CGAConnect 2020 event webpage. Throughout the summer and fall, we will update this page regularly with dates, times, topics, and speakers, as additional information about specific events becomes available).

“With more than 20 webinars, online meetings, and seminars scheduled through the end of 2020, we will be offering a full slate of virtual events to advance members’ technical knowledge and foster cross-industry collaboration and networking.”

Continuity and Persistence

Although for the time being, we may not be able to physically gather together as we have in the past, I’m pleased to report that the essential work of our committees has continued unabated.

Member company volunteers’ commitment to, and participation in, committees and safety standards development has continued at a steady pace, and we continue to issue new and revised CGA publications on par with our 2019 production.

For more than a century, our industry has become progressively safer because of the knowledge shared and ideas developed around the table at CGA committee meetings. While that table has changed into a Zoom call for now, rest assured our work will continue, uninterrupted and focused on ensuring the safety of all who work in the industry and use our industry’s products.