Disinfection and safety on board

EWS Group is taking care of disinfection and pest control on board of passenger ships and vessels, using certified hydrogen peroxide products that kill up to 99.9% of bacteria, fungus and viruses. The treatment is sprayed with professional nebulizers which do not damage surfaces. Disinfection treatment was recently performed on a cruise ship in Italy.

We apply two different procedures on board: one is to prevent potential spreading of viruses and bacteria, and one is to secure a specific area after a proven contamination. In both procedures, our technicians are wearing specific PPE, consisting in shoes with non-slip soles, waterproof overalls, gloves and full-face protection and filter masks.

Cross contamination
When it comes to secure a contaminated area, the technician starts with spraying a disinfectant product from the farther place, to the exit, to avoid cross contamination. To enhance the disinfection treatment, we use professional atomizers to allow the disinfectant product to reach all surfaces.


Double check

Safety comes first! Especially on board. Before boarding, technicians receive a temperature check. After that, they can wear their PPE and start the treatment. Before leaving the ship, all personnel must remove overalls and gloves, and disposal them in a specific plastic bag. All other PPE and equipment are thoroughly disinfected to avoid cross contamination.

EWS IS TAKING THE WOODLOG LEAD BY OPENING FUMIGATION TERMINAL IN VENRAY

By opening another fumigation area with partner BCTN Terminals, EWS Group strengthens its leading position in Woodlog fumigation. As of today BCTN Venray will join the strategic locations at which EWS offers Woodlog Fumigation to its customers. Venray is located in southern in The Netherlands and is close to the Belgium and German border area. Fumigation teamleader Roy van Hattum and BCTN Terminal Manager Antal Rozijn welcomed the first containers to this new location. BCTN Venray is a fast growing terminal situated right next to the river Maas. It is expected that Fumigation capacity will develop accordingly.

Learn more about Woodlock Fumigation by clicking here.

Lockdown and development of bedbugs in hotel rooms

Bedbugs are a type of insect that feed on human blood, usually at night.  Their bites can result in several health impacts, including skin rushes and allergic symptoms. At room temperature de eggs of the bedbug hatch after 15 to 22 days and they only need one and a half month to reach adulthood. Bedbugs can live without food for up to six months. However, watch out!  After the lockdown they are extra active.

Shutdown

In March, many countries in Europe and UK adopted extra measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. As a preventative method, governments restricted air traffic and discouraged trips abroad. Because of these measures the occupation of hotel rooms drastically decreased. Many hotel owners have closed their buildings and haven’t had guests for weeks. As long as the temperature in a hotel rooms fluctuates between 15-18°C, bedbugs can survive for up to 6 months without food.

Hunger

When bedbugs get hungry, they can travel relatively long distances hunting for new hosts. After the lockdown gets lifted the hotels will reopen. This means that at night the bedbugs in hotel rooms will be hungry for blood. During the night bedbugs will be present in large numbers, ready to prey on the hotel guests, with all the unpleasant consequences for the guests and the hotels.

Prevention

In order to prevent this inconvenience, it is wise to thoroughly inspect (suspicious) rooms, before commissioning. This can be done by well-trained hotel staff, or by a specialised team of EWS Pestcontrol. The infested rooms can be proactively treated with a professional control plan, which saves future guests from this unpleasant experience and disturbance.

Proud despite hard times!

Only 6 weeks ago – which feels like an eternity – it became clear what was in store for us regarding measures in case of Coronavirus.  The first notifications came from our Italian colleagues about quarantines, possible lockdown, hundreds of infected, and the first people who died from this virus. Then it escalated quickly. We also had to prepare ourselves, which risks and impact this pandemic would have for our companies in the other European countries, where we operate. We involved our customers to know their vision for the coming months. Also new forecasts have been made and we did some research into reducing work time. Various scenarios passed. Precautions have been taken; cars from the operational staff have all been supplied with soap and water, extra cleaning has been scheduled, all the office personnel were asked to work from home. We try to follow one clear policy as hard as we can. Of course, with specific exceptions in each Country.

 

 

The fact is that this situation is showing how strong our organisation is: there is more cooperation than ever on all fronts, we have daily team meetings, where we keep each other informed about developments by video conference.  HR, QHSE, Sales and Operations have never worked that close and intensively before. Everyone has a lot of creativity and is motivated to answer to all our customers issues. The most important thing is we remain self-motivated.

This situation reminds me of a Dutch quote: “alone you go faster, together you come further.” This sentence certainly applies to us. We really do this together!

We have divisions that are struggling, so we are blessed that we also work in branches that continue to run their business. Logistic never stands still, pests cannot be held back by coronavirus and the demand for our services has never been higher in the food industry. New services, such as disinfection, have been developed and time has been dedicated to knowledge transfer. Multidisciplinary training of our colleagues has always been a high priority on our agenda, but due to constant growth and tight labour markets, this has been difficult to achieve. Nowadays, colleagues between the different divisions are exchanged more than ever before.

It’s often said in the news: there is a world before coronavirus and a world after it, and it will never be like before. I must tell you honestly that I hope so, because this extraordinary situation brought significant changes. I am proud, extremely proud of our colleagues, our partners (customers and suppliers). We all stand together, with patience and understanding. This is inspiring and give us the drive to go for it every day.

Take care, enjoy the little things and try to stay healthy!

Joren Nieuwenhuizen

CEO

Article as PDF: Proud despite hard times!

VacQPack is member of PTNPA

We are glad to announce that VacQPack is now a member of the Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association (PTNPA), and will be attending the convention in January in Orlando.

Article: Toxic gases in boxes from China: ‘Leave your order for another day…’

This article was placed in the Algemeen Dagblad (NL) and is translated from Dutch. You can find the original article over here.

Toxic gases in boxes from China: ‘Leave your order for another day…’

Dutch consumers and port employees are unnecessarily exposed to toxic gases due to Chinese and Asian products that are loaded into a container too quickly after producing them. Gas measurement companies in the port of Rotterdam are warning for this. Products are concerning, among others, shoes, electronics, white goods and various plastic trinkets.

Of every ten containers that reach the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, at least one contains too high concentrations of toxic gases, according to Gasmeetstation and EWS Group, the biggest companies in gas measurement and ventilation of ship loads. Yearly, hundreds of thousands of ‘wrong’ containers are concerned: in the first half of this year, 7,5 million containers arrived in the port of Rotterdam alone.

Reason for the warning is the drama concerning the inland navigation couple De Waardt, that landed on the intensive care of the UMC, because of a load treated with Phosphine (rat poison).

According to reputable gas measurement companies, it goes wrong more often. On one hand, there are containers with, for example, grain, corn and rice that are consciously treated with gas in order to kill pests. The biggest category, however are products that vaporize toxic gases themselves. „Those are the real silent killers”, says Joren Nieuwenhuizen, director/owner of EWS Group and Chairman of Stichting Kennis en Advies Gasmeting en Ontgassing (KAGO). Shoes, but also white goods, electronics and all kinds of trinkets of plastic, pvc, wood and synthetics like Christmas houses and packaging materials.

Half of shoes gets rejected

At Gasmeetstation, employees measure too many dangerous gases in 12 percent of the containers. In the fifth percent of the cases, it concerns gases against pests, like Phosphine. The biggest part (80 percent) concerns toxic vapours from goods that were produced too fast.

Competitor EWS Group – which is also active in Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – finds dangerous concentrations of gases in 11 percent of the hundreds of thousands of containers they check every year. However, that is the average „We reject almost half of the loads with shoes”, tells Director Nieuwenhuizen. „Shoes are coming from Asia, where they are glued together with cheap products like formalin and toluene.” Shoes are transported before the glue has dried, during transport they also encounter the warm tropics. „This leads to a big gas bubble, that often exists of a mixture of different gases.”

Those shoes end up in warehouses and eventually in shoe stores. „That nice scent of new shoes, actually is the evaporation of volatile organic substances with potentially dangerous health effects”, Nieuwenhuizen says. His own children preferably only get shoes that where produced in Europe.

Mandatory ventilation phase

Health damage is revealed at the long term, Leo Roderkerk of Gasmeetstation complements. „Toxic, carcinogenic substances build up in the body. Nobody knows how many people eventually get sick. And if you get sick, try to prove that it’s because of the toxic container gases.”

Chemist Dr. Atie Verschoor, expert in container gases, pleads for a mandatory ventilation phase between production and transport. „Buyers in The Netherlands should oblige Chinese producers to do so. But the extra cent that those products will cost, apparently is too much.”

Verschoor, who has been director for years of the expertise centre in container gases ECEmed that was connected to the Rijstate hospital in Arnhem, states that Dutch consumers should be informed much better about the dangers of imported goods. „Don’t take a new pc or tv out of the box in the living room immediately. Put them somewhere they can ventilate for 24 hours first.”

According to all experts, the attention for toxic containers has weakened in the last years and they are inspected not often enough. A decade back, it has been different for a while, also due to reports of Zembla and Argos. Platform Gassen in Containers (PGIC), as well as a special contact point were formed. In the House of Representatives, Remi Poppe (SP) and Jan Boelhouwer (PvdA) advocated for a special inspection team.

More attention for safe production

According to the Inspectie Leefomgeving & Transport (IL&T), the situation has improved structurally. „Now, there are many more ventilation units and more awareness that containers can be dangerous,” a spokesperson states.

Director Nieuwenhuizen of EWS Group would like to see more attention for safe production. „In Europe, we banned many detrimental chemicals, and now these chemicals enter our country through Asia because we love to buy cheap stuff.”

Nieuwenhuizen repeatedly invited the government to share his expertise. „We have been building a database with more than one million containers since 2010. Not even 2 percent of the total amount of containers that enter The Netherlands are checked nowadays.”

Response Customs: 16.625 containers were checked in 2018

In a response, customs let us know that every container that is inspected, also must be opened and checked for the presence of dangerous gases. The Douane Rotterdam Haven (DRH) says that 16.625 containers were checked last year „in different processes”. Of these, 77 were reported to the Inspection SZW, because they contained too high concentrations of gases or vapours. This year, it is expected that the total of physically inspected containers will be a little higher, according to DRH. Up until last week, 90 incoming and 15 outgoing containers were reported to the Inspection SZW, because they contained gases or vapours that exceeded the statutory limits.

Fosfine (ph3) in vacuum packaging cashews

More than 70 percent of all cashews are fumigated with fosfine right before they are packed. The goal of this is to kill stock harming insects. Cashews are almost always packed in vacuum plastic bags in boxes. Because of the vacuum, the gas can’t get out of the packaging. This brings along a huge risk for the people opening these boxes and plastic packaging afterwards.

Dangers of fosfine

Fosfine is ingested in the body by breathing it in. Fosfine is colourless, scentless and inflammable. It is also deadly in really small concentrations. The limit value of fosfine is almost everywhere in the world  0,1 ppm. Fosfine comes along with enormous health hazards, like shortness of breath, dizziness, drowsiness and even arrhythmias. People who are exposed to fosfine regularly can develop brochitis and anemia, among others.

The solution of EWS Group and NCP Group

EWS Group does not only carry out gas measurement of containers and open areas, but also measures between and inside the goods when there is a reason to do so. With our many years of experience, we measure a minimum of ten boxes in vacuum in a container of cashew nuts. The results of this are shocking. We regularly stumble upon concentrations of fosfine of more than 1000 times the statutory limit!

NCP Group, a sister company of EWS Group, has developed a service regarding the degassing of these batches of cashew nuts in a responsible and safe way. NCP Group rebags the cashews from the boxes in a big bag. We do all this with respiratory protection. The big bags are ventilated by means of an innovative extraction installation. With this installation, the detrimental gases are intercepted by carbon filters. We do this until the concentration of fosfine is below the limit value. After that, the cashews can be packed in any desired packaging.

Would you like to know more about the Gas measurement division of EWS Group? Go to: https://www.ews-group.nl/en/gas-measurement/. Are you curious about how NCP Group can help you? Visit https://www.ncp-group.nl/en/

Raised fines for not complying with Dutch Law on Working Conditions

The fines for violating the Dutch Law on Working Conditions have been raised. There still are many companies (half of the lawfully obliged companies) that do not have a risk-inventory and -evaluation (RI&E). Futhermore, the RI&E of companies that do have one, often is incomplete. An RI&E is legally required, but is also very important to guarantee the health and safety of the own employees and to work more efficiently. Read more about this in the article of Evofenedex (Dutch): https://www.evofenedex.nl/kennis/actualiteiten/boetes-voor-overtreden-arbowet-gaan-omhoog

RI&E mandatory

The raise of the fine (sometimes with 40 percent) is an interesting development. To prevent a fine, companies must draw

up a valid RI&E. Since 2012, the gas measurement of containers is a mandatory part of the risk-inventory and evaluation. EWS Group can assist companies by drawing up a valid RI&E regarding the gas measurement of containers and the evaluation of gas measurements.

EWS can assist

To unburden the customer, we draw up a measurement protocol, in which containers are automatically selected for a gas measurement. This automation makes sure that containers are safe to enter. An important aspect to this is our online EWS Portal. This is a useful tool because of its’ clarity. In the Portal, the customer can find elaborate reports, measurement results and gas measurement certificates. Besides that, our clients get periodic reports every year, with which they can explain themselves to the Dutch health and safety service.

Would you like to know more about how we can help or about our online Portal? Do not hesitate to contact us or go to: gas measurement.

New dilutor CGM 2000 for EWS Gas measurement

EWS Gas measurement is improving its quality and increasing possibilities with the Computerized Calibration System CGM 2000. With this new dilutor we can make a mix of four gases/vapours with a different humidity in our own laboratory. This allows us to calibrate our gas measurement equipment very accurately. Besides that, it allows us to recreate conditions that occur in containers. This makes it possible to measure your containers even more accurate! Do you want to have some more information about our gas measurement services? Go to https://www.ews-group.nl/en/gas-measurement/