Those of us fortunate to have come of age in the 1970s may (if we try hard) remember a time when anything felt possible. We had our own music to listen to, much of it unlike anything else heard before – reggae, glam, Krautrock and, perhaps less successfully, prog rock. We also had colour TV and it was a time when colour was everywhere, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the petrochemical industry in coming up with new synthetic fabrics and dyes.
This freedom of expression was only made possible by the struggles that many young people had gone through in the 1960s, protesting against governments that they saw as square and old-fashioned, holding them back from being themselves or taking their part in a society they wanted to change.
Change was happening anyway, not least in the high-hazard industries. But immense growth in chemical manufacturing and other process industries was coming at a cost to the environment and to the safety of personnel. After a succession of high-profile accidents, governments started to take action: the 1970s saw the formation in the US of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the UK’s Health & Safety Executive started work in 1974, and other European countries were putting similar agencies in place.
All this brought with it more regulation and industry had to adapt in order to comply. It is perhaps no coincidence that several of the industry’s leading trade associations were also formed during what we might call the ‘long 1970s’ – the period from 1968 to 1980 – as industry became keenly aware that it needed to have a voice in the development of new regulations.
It was around this time that Storck Verlag, which had begun publishing Gefärhliche Ladung in the late 1950s to keep the German chemicals sector up to date with the changing transport regulations, decided it would be worth a good idea to offer an English-language equivalent so that professionals who did not speak German could benefit from the same service.
That set the stage for Hazardous Cargo Bulletin (HCB), which was established towards the end of the decade and sent out its very first issue in January 1980. This year, then, marks 40 years of continuous publication – extended now to include online and electronic versions – and in this issue we have reached out to some other organisations of a similar age to give us their views on how things have changed over the past four decades and, perhaps, where we are going in the coming years.
Trying to think about the future is still difficult: many of us are still working from home and not getting together with our colleagues, except on one of the new meetings apps. Conferences and training are increasingly going online during the lockdown and one has to wonder whether we will ever get back to doing things the old way. If we don’t, I certainly won’t miss all the hours sitting in airports, but I will miss the chance to get out and hear directly from industry and regulators.
But, as we keep hearing, today’s young generation are apparently already geared up to working that way. They may end up having the future to themselves, just like we wanted way back in the 1970s.
Peter Mackay[post_title] => Editor's reflection [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => editors-reflection [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-06-29 09:07:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-06-29 08:07:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://hcblive.com/?p=23308 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )