Safe Pass04 December 2014

Tanker operators are having to cope with several regulatory and industry changes right now. Steve Banner explains some of the engineering and management issues

Changes to the petroleum industry's Safe Loading Pass (SLP) scheme mean that all road tankers that load at participating terminals will have to be inspected at least once every six months by qualified technicians. So says Peter Davidson, safety, projects and commercial director at the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA), who explains that it's all about ensuring they meet safety standards.

Previously, inspections had to be conducted either every six months if the vehicles concerned were operated by contractors, or annually if they were directly operated by the major oil companies. Standardising on a single inspection interval reduces the risk of any confusion, he contends.

Tankers still have to display the disc, now redesigned, in the windscreen. If the disc is lost, stolen or defaced, however, terminal operators will be able to interrogate a newly-launched website ( to check that a vehicle is SLP-compliant. Failure to comply will mean that a tanker is turned away (and separate discs are required for tractor units and tanker trailers). The website also records tanker inspection details. That includes everything from tanker barrel examinations for leaks, dampness and damage to vapour adaptor inspections aimed at ensuring that they are secure and free of product, and that emergency pressure relief valves have been fitted.

Turning to the tractor unit and/or rigid chassis, areas that require examination include the wiring (no chafing or damage), sealing around the cab's rear window and roof hatch, and the condition of the fire screen. "The same website will allow operators to log in and allocate passes to vehicles electronically," says Davidson. "It's supported by a new IT platform and database."

Standardising on a half-year interval across the industry is not the only change however he explains. "All workshops carrying out inspections will have to demonstrate that that they have completed a risk assessment for working at height," he says. "They will also have to show that a risk assessment has been undertaken that takes into account DSEAR [Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations]."

"Where this might become an issue is if you have a mobile technician who is competent to carry out an SLP inspection but ends up doing so in an operator's workshop that is not SLP-compliant," comments Tony Brown, technical manager at the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers. Both the workshop and the technician must be SLP-approved. "At present there are some 50 workshops that have the necessary approval and the number is likely to increase," Davidson says. Workshops have to be re-assessed every two years.

The revised SLP scheme, which started to come into force last month, is the result of agreement between UKPIA, the Tank Storage Association and the FTA (Freight Transport Association), which is administering the programme. "We're in a transition period at the moment," says Davidson. "The new arrangements are being implemented in stages."

Note: tankers transporting diesel, central heating oil, kerosene and aviation spirit all fall within scope, alongside petrol tankers. However, tanker fleets getting to grips with the new SLP arrangements will doubtless be relieved to learn that no significant changes to ADR (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) are in the offing. They have been busy enough in recent months, not only with the SLP changes, but also arranging the annual training their drivers require to retain the new Petroleum Driver's Passport (PDP).

"This involves a classroom session with a written, multiple-choice exam and a practical assessment that includes driving, loading and unloading," says Darragh McGrath, health, safety and training manager at Norbert Dentressangle Tankers. The practical assessment is carried out during the individual's normal working duties, and the aim is for all PDP holders to have comparable knowledge and competence. A dedicated website has been set up at

Meanwhile, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has been appointed by the Downstream Oil Industry Distribution Forum to run the PDP scheme on its behalf. SQA already manages the ADR scheme. A PDP lasts for five years. Tanker drivers who have not obtained one by 1 January 2015 will not be able to take their vehicles into terminals. "Approximately 6,000 drivers who regularly do so have been logged and the scheme is on track to have covered this number by January," says SQA head of specialist awards Sue Macfarlane.

It may be possible for the training to count towards the Driver's Certificate of Professional Conference if the course and training centre are approved by JAUPT, the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training. "For example the PDP classroom session could be built into a normal seven-hour CPC training session," McGrath says. It is also worth noting that the PDP is not solely required by drivers of petrol tankers. Anybody who transports diesel, central heating oil, kerosene or aviation spirit will need one, too.

Incidentally, fleets concerned about the impact of Euro 6 on tanker safety need not worry, according to DAF product marketing manager Phil Moon. The main concern voiced by some tanker operators, is that regeneration of the active DPF (diesel particulate filter), if deliberately triggered, could lead to petroleum vapour could be igniting. "What we're talking about are exhaust gases in the vicinity of the tailpipe that reach around 400C, but there is no real risk that they will cause an ignition in an open atmosphere," insists Moon. "The temperature would have to be a lot higher... That said, we would still recommend that drivers disable the regeneration system before they enter a terminal."

And he continues: "The other concern is that surface temperatures [around DPFs] might exceed 200C, which they are not supposed to. But surfaces are invariably so well shielded that this is unlikely to happen. The aim has to be to retain as much heat as possible in the exhaust system at all times because that aids regeneration when it needs to take place."

Addressing another aspect of health and safety, the Scottish whisky industry has made a commitment to phase out working at height by 2024. This means changes to the design of tankers, given that they are generally top-filled from an upper gantry. Glasgow-based Carntyne Transport, which lists hauling whisky in bulk as one of its specialities, has responded by allocating a budget of more than £3 million to what it calls hybrid tankers. These can be either top- or bottom-loaded so that they can cope as distilleries switch from the former to the latter.

These tankers have been designed in conjunction with the distillers and the Scotch Whisky Association. Some are being bought new. Other tankers already in service are being converted to the new specification in Carntyne's own workshops. "We're a significant way through our conversion programme," Carntyne managing director, David Paterson reports. "Having the work done by our in-house engineering team enables us to better control quality and cost, while also ensuring that we can influence the programme timescale."
And he adds: "We can accelerate the work during quieter periods, then slow it down during periods of high demand. That means we can make sure there will be no detrimental impact on the service we provide."

Steve Banner

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Carntyne Transport Co Ltd
DAF Trucks Ltd
Norbert Dentressangle
Shell International ltd
UK Petroleum Industry Association Ltd

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