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CI* Seal'dig Special

10th June 1977, Page 39
10th June 1977
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 39, 10th June 1977 — CI* Seal'dig Special
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Tougher 0-licence for chemicals haulage is on the way...

TANKER DRIVERS are special: to the usual hgv driver's concern with road safety is added responsibility for hazardous load safety The companies carrying these hazardous loads are taking care to contain the risks. They anticipate, too — as also forecast in CM's White Paper, April 22 — that a special category of operator's licence will be brought in by legislation before very long.

One of the major tanker operators in the UK is the giant P&O Group, which operates a fleet of some 600 tankers through its various wholely owned subsidiaries. These include Thomas Allen, James Hemphill, John Forman, A. S. Jones, Robert Armstrong, Coastal Roadways, Hempenias and Stommel, and its most recent acquisition, P&O Tankmasters. Together with a number of general haulage, low-loaders and other non-tanker units they are combined under the overall banner of P&O Road Services.

This month P&O is starting a poster campaign to remind drivers of the message, and I went along to see Ted Haines, general manager of the road haulage group and chairman of each of its operating subsidiaries, to learn the haulier's viewpoint.

He emphasised that P&O, like other major tank hauliers, knows of the understandable public concern. "We may be far from perfect,he said, "but let no one believe that any of the major tanker hauliers would knowingly tolerate second best or careless attitudes in operational or environmental safety."

He said that P&O believes that the Governmental concern will quickly develop into further controlling legislation, and that hauliers of hazardous liquids will be required to satisfy exacting criteria to justify a special category of operator's licence. With this will come a rigorous vetting of depot facilities, maintenance procedures, driver-training, and management qualifications over and above the standards for conventional 0 licences.

Mr Haines believes that the chemical industries and other principal customers will support this concept of tougher quality controls.

The carrying of hazardous loads by any haulier not specially licensed would constitute an offence under future legislation, not only by the carrier, but also by the loading customer.

The essential liaison with police and fire authorities — the application of standardised load-labelling, both UK and Continental; the co-operation of technical and emergency services between customers and carriers; and the training of specialist staffs — will, of course, be facilitated if the hauliers concerned are clearly identified by the special licence.

Over a year ago, P&O anticipated the inevitability of stricter standards. While it had no reason to doubt the safety systems and controls in its individidual operating companies — most of which have many years of successful experience under their belts — P&O selected one of its senior managing directors, relieved him of day-to-day commercial duties and gave him complete involvement in this subject.

Willie McMillan, who now answers directly to Ted Hains for all aspects of operational safety in the P&O haulage companies, needed no introduction to his new task, or to hauliers and customers. For many years he controlled James Hemphill 8iSon (previously his family business), as a major carrier of the types of products which he now monitors throughout P&O Road Services.

As a past national chairman of RHA he is an accepted authority beyond the confines of the P&O haulage family, and he currently serves in the transport forums of the Chemical Industries Association, and the Health and Safety working parties.

Mr Heins showed me Mr McMillan's modus operandi — an ongoing round of safety audits conducted at all companies and depots where road tankers are operated. His findings and criticisms, are reported to the general managers of the operating companies and to the Group HQ, and his remedial advice is followed up to ensure. implementation.

Any hazardous load incidents or accidents throughout the P&O Road Services Group are reported to Mr McMillan and investigated bu him, so that all managers may learn from the experience of others.

Indeed, this exchange of information goes beyond the P&O's own companies and there is a common dialogue with other hauliers in similar trades.

Some sceptics feared that

"old-handmanagers would resent constant check-ups of their safety systems. But this has riot been a problem for two reasons: first, because none of the P&O staff is in any doubt on potential dangers, and

secondly because no one resents constructive criticism from a man who really knows what he is talking about.

Examples of the check-list and the resulting reports include: [j The recruitment and training of drivers.

The supervision of traffic procedures; clear, specific instructions to operatives. E The control of emergency procedures including the RHA emergency transfer scheme.

The maintenance of tank trailers, valve testing, etc, including the appropriate records.

E The control and inspections of hoses, coding systems, test records, etc.

Examinations of vehicles at random including all ancillary equipment.

Examinations of the condition and adequacy of fire extinguishers, first-aid outfits, hazard signs, protective clothing and so on.

Driver-training is an area of particular concern to all hauliers engaged in hazardous transports. First, there are the more straightforward requirements to convert an able class 1 hgv driver to beccime familiar with the general handling of a tanker vehicle — with hoses, valves, loading/discharge systems, pumps and compressorss, etc, much of which is undertaken "in-house". Then there is the second, more technical stage, of product-training. Major customers are anxious and willing to provide the specialist technical instruction to drivers who will handle their particular commodities. Tank maintenance fitters, clearing bay operatives, and traffic office staff similarly require to be continuously updated as equipment and products The P&O companies are, of )urse, not solely concerned ith internal UK transits of )zardous loads.

ross-Channel traffics need ireful supervision (and it must )t be assumed that only Ilk-liquid tank vehicles can carry dangerous goods).

With P&O's own Group involvement in many of the short-sea ro-ro ferryships — an r extensive European network of freight-forwarders and the backroom expertise of a

deep-sea Tank-Shipping Division — it has accessto a fund of knowledge denied to many smaller organisations.

Despite these advantages, P&O frankly admits it is constantly facing the problems of the rest of the industry.

Asked to single out one major difficulty, Ted Hains mentioned the human element, particularly that old and true saying that • "Familiarity breeds contempt."' Most of the incident reports reveal forgetfulness rather than ignorance. These are some of them.

L] Forcing manlids open before a tank is depressurised.

Discovering what

implosionmeans the hard way!

E Trying to put a quart into a pint pot.

El Momentary lapses in cleaning-bay disciplines. 0 Failing to use the proper protective clothing, etc.

Like most tanker drivers, P&O staff have a detailed handbook of standing instructions, and the overriding message is "If in doubt, find out". It is in order to supplement and emphasize the prescribed drills that P&O has launched its poster campaign to give an impact reminder throughout its companies, and in the production plants, depots and dock terminals — wherever the message is applicable. With the help of artist Brian Chandler a touch of humour has been added to attract attention to the underlying theme.

P&O believe its drivers are the best in the business, but with people's lives at risk it is hammering home the message: REMEMBER THE RULES — REMEMBER THE RISKS."

• John Durant

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