1st CEOC International Safety Seminar brings together representatives from the European Institutions, Industry and the Testing and Inspection sector speaking up for safety and consumer protection as shared goal.
On 03 February 2010, CEOC International, the international confederation of inspection and certification organisations, organised the kick-off conference of a newly planned safety dialogue initiative, bringing together political decision-makers, industry representatives and safety professionals in a tripartite summit.
In front of over 100 consumer and industrial (safety) experts, CEOC President Dr Hugo Eberhardt (TÜV AUSTRIA) officially opened the first CEOC International Safety Seminar and formulated the common message of the afternoon debates, namely how to contribute to guaranteeing safe consumer products and industrial installations.
Stefano Soro, Head of the Unit for Product and Service Safety at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers, repeated the words of his outgoing Commissioner Meglena Kuneva saying that there should be no compromise on consumer safety. He referred to the growing number of products notified through RAPEX – the rapid alert system linking market surveillance authorities in the Member States and coordinated by the European Commission. Even though the number of notified products is steadily growing, this figure still represents only the tip of the iceberg and more market surveillance and control would be needed to detect “black sheep” and prevent dangerous products from reaching the consumers. The New EU Legislative Framework for Goods that came into force this January will pay its contribution to laying down the legal framework for intensified, Europe-wide organised and harmonised control of the market at different stages of the goods supply chain.
The European legislation in that field is backed by the appropriate standards against which products have to be assessed. Elena Santiago Cid, joint Director General of CEN-CENELEC – the European standards-setting bodies – explained that CEN does not only produce European standards in support of the European Legislation, but also takes the initiative when the existing legislative provisions seem to be too weak and/or inappropriate. To give an example, standard EN 1273:2005 Child use and care articles - Baby walking frames - Safety requirements and test methods that was developed within the respective CEN WG was cited in the Official Journal of the EU for the first time in February 2009 after long discussions at the GPSD (General Product Safety Directive) Committee.
Annette Dragsdahl from the Confederation of Danish Industry and speaking on behalf of Businesseurope drew the picture from industry side, saying that being proactive and not only reactive was key in making safety a reality. Among others, she called for identifying the failure reason in order to better target interventions, to set up statistics of accidents, establish common, global regulatory objectives so that international standards can be developed and to establish cross-border cooperation in pro-active activities and risk-assessment
Hans-Hermann Ueffing, Managing Director - Business Division Products at TÜV Rheinland/LGA presented the results of several market enquiries carried out by TÜV Rheinland, evaluating the safety of playgrounds, Christmas lighting chains etc. The alarming results showed that more than 80 percent of the tested lighting chains for instance should not be allowed on the marked due to risk of inflammation and electrical shock. More than 50 % of the tested playgrounds were highly hazardous, involving danger of collapse and danger of strangulation.
Turning towards industrial installations, Hans D’Hooge from the European Commission Unit Construction, Pressure Equipment, Metrology/ Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry presented the EC’s efforts to lie down and improve the right legislation in the field of pressure equipment. CEOC members and the Commission engage themselves in the Conformity Assessment Bodies Forum (CABF) to draft texts for alignment of the EU Pressure Equipment Directive/Simple Pressure Equipment Directive. The ‘notified bodies fora’ were initiated on behalf of the European Commission for all so-called New Approach Directives and look at the continuous review and improvement of European Directives.
Shell, the world-wide operating oil company, has to keep a special eye on the safety of its petrochemical and gas installations. Paul Slangen from Shell Projects & Technology made it clear that global players like Shell value an optimised risk-based inspection and safety approach as part of their corporate responsibility. He defined Shell RBI as being a risk-based decision support process, structured and multi-disciplinary, to determine and document cost-effectively the optimum inspection requirements of pressure containing equipment in its operating context and safeguards integrity. He underlined the added value of CEOC members with regard to standardisation and guidelines and certification (knowledge, facilitation skills, project management skills).
Statistical background and research overview was provided by Dr Marie-Astrid Kordek-Soenen from INERIS (Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques, France) who presented the findings of the latest INERIS study on industrial facility ageing. The study looked at different areas such as safety management systems, civil engineering, storage tanks, pipelines, facilities tubes and piping and safety instruments and provided the input for the French National Action Plan (“Plan de modernisation des installations industrielles”) for 2010.
From the big scale of oil platforms Dr Steffi Friedrichs switched the focus to nanomaterials and related technologies. Nanoparticles are for instance massively used in cosmetics products and big companies like L’Oréal are very much concerned about guaranteeing and demonstrating the safety of these materials, Dr Friedrichs, Director General of the Nanotechnology Industries Association, explained. The Nanotechnology Industries Association, NIA, was formed in 2005 by a group of companies from a variety of industry sectors, including healthcare, chemicals, automotive, materials processing, and consumer products.
Dirk-Jan Schuld, RBMI Manager Operations EMEA Lloyd’s Register, closed the picture by illustrating Lloyd’s (CEOC members’) contribution to providing industrial safety worldwide by offering services focused on compliance, safety, integrity and risk management. He explained that under increasing market pressure companies are obliged to improve business performance while becoming more socially responsible, two aims being in conflict sometimes. However, failure of a critical asset in a high risk business sector normally has a significant impact on the safety, health, environment or the reputation and profitability of the business. Short-term focus on reducing asset management costs will often result in higher risk and long-term loss of value to the organisation. By saying this he underlined the introductory statement made by Stefano Soro/ Meglena Kuneva that there should be no compromise on safety - simply because only the “safe path” leads to a continuous positive output of a company for the benefit of the whole society.
Taking into account the positive and constructive contributions given during the conference and equally positive and constructive reactions from the audience, CEOC International Secretary General Drewin Nieuwenhuis concluded that the initiative had apparently found a gap in the overall concern for safety and security. He promised future follow-up and bundling of efforts at national, European and international stage in order to make CEOC’s slogan “providing safety in an uncertain world” a reality for everyone.
If you wish to receive further information on this event and related issues, please contact Astrid Silvia Grunert, EU Affairs Manager at CEOC International: firstname.lastname@example.org.