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BP's hazard card prowl there's safety in number

1st January 1983, Page 46
1st January 1983
Page 46
Page 47
Page 46, 1st January 1983 — BP's hazard card prowl there's safety in number
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

From today, tanker drivers must comply with new regulations for dangerous substances. David Wilcox has been attending a preparatory course with some of them

"TREMCARD SIR? That will do nicely." No, tremcards are not the latest addition to your circle of flexible friends, the credit cards.

Tremcard stands for Transport Emergency Card and it officially comes into existence today. January 1, 1983. It is not mentioned by name in the legislation but is described in the Dangerous Substances (Conveyance by Road in Road Tankers and Tank Containers) Regulations 1981.* Section 10 of these Regulations states that when a dangerous substance is being conveyed by road in a road tanker or tank container, the vehicle's operator must provide the driver with written information that enables him to know (a) the identity of the substance; and (b) its dangers and and the emergency action he should take.

In other words, the operator has to give the driver a Tremcard.

The bulk of the 1981 Dangerous Substances Regulations came into force on January 1, 1982, but three sections (including Section 10 relating to tremcards) come into force today. This leaves just one, Section 7, which concerns the periodic testing of tanks on road tankers, due to come into operation on January 1,1984.

The approved list of dangerous substances covered by the Regulations runs to around a thousand liquids, solids, gases and other substances. All are flammable or corrosive or toxic or oxidising or harmful in some other way.

Most are long chemical names and little-known concoctions but also included are some of the most common tanker loads seen on the roads — oil and petroleum products. Many of these come under the classification of flammable liquids, defined as a liquid having a flash point of 55° Centigrade or below (ie, it gives off sufficient vapour to form a flammable mixture at this ternperature). Petrol has a flashpoint of minus 40° Centigrade and so will always be a flammable liquid and hence a dangerous substance at air temperatures in the UK.

Kerosine (paraffin) has a higher flashpoint (usually 38-43° Centigrade) and so is considerably less volatile in normal temperatures than petrol. But because its flashpoint is below 55° Centigrade it is still classified as a flammable and hence dangerous substance for the purpose of the regulations.

Derv, on the other hand, has a minimum flashpoint of about 66° Centigrade and is therefore outside the scope of these Regulations.

I mentioned that three new Sections of the regulations come into operation today. One is Section 10, the tremcard requirement. The second is Section 8 which makes it compulsory for the operator to know exactly what is being carried so that he can comply with the necesaary regulations and be aware of any risks attached to the substance.

The third and final Section that comes into operation today is Section 21 which states that the operator of a vehicle used for the conveyance of a dangerous substance by road shall ensure that the driver of that vehicle has received adequate instruction and training to enable him to understand; (a) possible dangers of the substance and the emergency action he should take; and (b) his duties under these regulations.

So the oil companies and distributors plus all the other tanker operators carrying dangerous substances must have now carried out some instruction and training related to the specific substance being carried.

To find out what this entails I sat in on a seminar for BP drivers at the company's Fulham terminal. BP has 1,000 tanker drivers spread over 38 terminals all of whom must have received their training and been introduced to tremcards by today.

Senior training officer Bob Catton told the 30 drivers present at the seminar what the tremcards will contain. The name of the substance, its identification number and its emergency action code are the first facts. The identification number and emergency action code correspond to the hazard warning panel on the outside of the tanker.

Then the tremcard describes the cargo and its hazards. For instance, in the case of petrol this will cover such points as its flashpoint, that its vapour is invisible and heavier than air and so spreads along the ground, and that empty vessels remain a hazard.

Next, the tremcards lists the protective device (plastic gloves for petrol) and the emergency action to betaken in the case of a road accident, spillage or fire and the details of suitable first aid treatment. Lastly, the operator's phone number is noted.

BP tankers have been fitted with holders inside the cab for the tremcards and Bob Catton told the drivers that when they pick up their day's delivery notes they will also be given the appropriate tremcard which they must keep in the cab at all times while the substance is being carried.

The Regulations state that the tremcards must be removed from the vehicle or destroyed or away when it does not relate the load or when that load is ) longer being carried.

To eliminate the possibility of )ubt, BP has produced a "noningerous substance" tremcard ot compulsory under the Reilations) which drivers can use len their vehicles are carrying

Section 21, which lays down e operator's responsibility for lining drivers, also contains a ,cond part which says that mrators must keep an indidual record of the training yen to each driver and that a

■ py of this must be available to e driver.

Bob Cation showed the Fulim drivers an example of the mit record card that BP has in)cluced, adding that the day's miner would be one of the enes on it. BP and some of the her major oil companies are king this a step further and isling certificates to the drivers show that they are competent 'der the new Regulations.

That completed the three new ctions that came into operam today. The rest of the day's miner at Fulham for the BP ivers covered general aspects Ich as product knowledge, lying techniques, operating • ocedures, emergency actices, fire safety and first aid. le majority of this was covered the section of the Dangerous thstances Regulations 1981 at came into operation exactly le year ago.

Explained Bob Canon: "You -eady know this. You do most it every day and it is in your iver's handbook. We and the her big oil companies were al ready operating within the Regulations before they came into effect. They merely brought legislation up to date and in line with current practice."

He went on to point out that the similarity between the 1981 Dangerous Substances Regulations and the drivers' usual procedures was no coincidence; the Health and Safety Commission prepared the Regulations after consultation with operators in the oil and chemical industries.

This revision for the drivers followed a syllabus prepared by the Petroleum Training Federation in conjunction with the Institute of Petroleum. The syllabus was among the first pieces of work produced by the Petroleum Training Federation; the body was set up on September 1, 1982 to look after training in the "downstream" part of the oil industry. It replaces the work of the statutory Oil Industry Training Board and its members (the oil companies) together supervise their own training.

Training officer Les Eyre told drivers that although none of the operating procedures were new to them, revision would do no harm; they could not afford complacency. Even a very small spillage can have devastating effects — just one gallon (4.5 litres) of petrol spilt produces 0.9cum (33cuft) of petrol vapour which mixes in air to give 61cum (2,140cuft) of flammable vapour. That is roughly twice the volume of an average living room and any source of ignition within that space will ignite the whole area.

The drivers were also reminded that an empty petrol tanker or compartment is more dangerous than one that is full or partly full. The petrol vapour /air mix can be at its most explosive in an empty tank that had previously contained petrol whereas the space above the partly full tanker can be too rich in petrol vapour for easy ignition.

Safety when delivering petrol to a retail garage is naturally paramount for the drivers and Les Eyre reiterated that they should remember to take a copy of the garage's Petroleum Certificate once the hose is connected but before the actual delivery begins. Pointed out Les: "The certificate effectively transfers responsibility during delivery to the site operator — it is important."

In reply to one of the drivers' questions Les confirmed that the site owner is not legally compelled to shut the garage during a delivery, although many do.

The problem of static electricity generated by the product passing through the pipes and hoses was highlighted. This used to mean that an earth connection (static wire) must be attached before any product flowed but modern equipment usually has an integral static wire in the hose or pipe connection to take care of static buildup.

On to fire safety, and the drivers were quizzed on BP's use of colour coding for its fire extinguishers: red for water, green for foam, black for carbon dioxide, blue for powder and green for BCF. When do you use each type? Powder and BCF came out as the most versatile in virtually all circumstances including flammable liquids, lpg and electricity.

A film on driving articulated tankers showed that during cornering a very small increase in speed could vastly increase the tanker's tendency to roll. Les Eyre reasoned that the reverse is equally true — a very small reduction in speed will bring about a great increase in stability and safety.

While admitting that modern tyres and suspension, plus the use of load-sensing brakes on the trailer and anti-skid systems fitted to all BP units helped greatly, Les Eyre also said it was easier for the tanker driver to go more quickly these days.

Vehicles are more powerful but more refined and so give less of an impression of speed than vehicles did 10 years ago.

The final session of the day was first aid instruction includ ing a practical demonstration of mouth to mouth resuscitation. If somebody swallows some of the product do not try and make him sick said Les Eyre; this could introduce petrol into the lungs which can be fatal — get medical attention.

"And what would you do if you were walking across the yard when there was a spillage and the shift manager got covered in product?" asked Les. The correct answer is to shout for everyone to stay clear and to get the victim under a shower as quickly as possible.

Some of the Fulham drivers came up with alternative answers that were not too complimentary for the shift manager.

But, joking aside, the seminar showed that BP and the other companies who have run similar courses are taking their responsibilities seriously under the Dangerous Substances Regulations 1981.

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