International Harmonization Update

August 26, 2022

In today’s global marketplace, it is increasingly important for the industry to reduce the variability in safety standards and operating practices. CGA’s participation in efforts to harmonize industry publications ensures that industry requirements and practices are consistent wherever gases are produced, distributed, or used.

The International Harmonization Council (IHC) was formed in 1998 to manage the global harmonization of industry standards. The IHC includes representation from the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), the Asia Industrial Gases Association (AIGA), the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA), and the Japan Industrial and Medical Gases Association (JIMGA). Today, the IHC maintains a portfolio of more than 70 harmonized standards.

Harmonization has many benefits for the industry, including:

  • Increased safety, improved efficiency, and decreased liability as a result of sharing best practices and learnings and implementing them consistently on a global scale.
  • Leverage harmonized positions to promote a unified industry message to global standards bodies, regulators, and more.
  • Elimination of duplicate regional efforts to address the same topics, which allows regional gas associations to use industry resources more effectively.
  • Identification of gaps and differences in association publications, regional regulations, and external standards which can then be prioritized for future work.
  • Provides developing regions with access to safety information developed by the industry’s leading subject matter experts.

The IHC held its 51st meeting on August 23 – 24, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. In addition to the industry association representatives, the meeting was attended by company observers from Air Liquide, Air Products & Chemicals, Linde plc, and Nippon Sanso Holdings.

Participants discussed several critical issues:

A Strategic Approach to Harmonizing Hydrogen Standards

As hydrogen applications continue to rapidly evolve, the regional associations must work cooperatively to harmonize requirements wherever feasible and to interface with other standards agencies. The IHC agreed to support a global task force that will have responsibility for developing a strategic plan for the development of harmonized hydrogen standards, engagement in external standards arenas such as ISO, and other hydrogen-related activities.

Harmonization of Sustainability Metrics

Work to develop guidance on the application of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) greenhouse gas emissions protocol to our industry continues to progress. The joint working group addressing this project is near completion on the initial draft, which will be circulated to all participating IHC Associations for member review and comment.

New Harmonization Projects

The IHC supported activation of several harmonization projects, including:

  • Three new projects addressing learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic response including Mitigating Oxygen Hazards in the Health Care Environment, Cleaning of Cylinders Returned from Health Care Facilities During a Pandemic, and Safety Poster: Cleaning Cylinders at Health Care Facilities.

After the working meeting, attendees had the opportunity to take a hydrogen bus to a fueling station outside of Brussels, where attendees were able to observe the filling process and talk with local operators to learn more about their experience with hydrogen vehicles. As the IHC moves to address the quickly changing world of hydrogen, it was an excellent opportunity to understand the benefits and challenges in this space from a first hand user perspective.

The IHC will hold its next meeting in February 2023.