The first meeting of the reconvened UK Downstream Oil Distribution Forum (UKDODF) has been held in London today as part of proposals agreed between Unite the union and haulage company employers in April.

Last active in 2007, the forum was formally opened by Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who said: “Health and safety in the downstream oil industry is of vital importance. That’s why I’m pleased that so many people in the sector could attend the forum today.

“Identifying good and best practice is something best done by industry, with valuable input coming from the workforce and regulators. Today’s meeting helps bring us closer to a new industry code of practice or standard that can be rolled out across the sector.”

Davey had requested both Cogent Sector Skills Council and Skills for Logistics Sector Skills Council to reconvene the UKDODF as the platform to facilitate a review of best practice in health and safety and driver training standards at which all interested parties have a voice.

Joanna Woolf, Cogent CEO, said: “We are very pleased that the industry, government, trade associations, trade unions and key SSCs are once again coming together to develop and promote important standards and best practice in downstream oil distribution.

“As the Skills Council representing the downstream sector, Cogent understands the all-important licence to operate and that health, safety and environment remain a priority for this key part of the sector. This forum will support organisations in constantly updating and reviewing the skills they require to be safe, environmentally sound and successful.’

Cogent and Skills for Logistics have appointed an independent chair Brian Worrall, who recently retired as general manager for sales & marketing Europe at Valero Energy, to lead the forum. Worrall said: “This first meeting was a great success with good progress being made. Terms of reference for the forum have been established and it was agreed that sub-groups will be set up to develop updated standards and determine the mechanism of introduction.”

The UKDODF will continue as a standing body to ensure that the initial work is implemented and to provide an on-going review of the health and safety issues for the industry. Representation at the meeting included various trade bodies from a number of sectors including energy and retail, haulage employers, Unite, URTU, DECC, DfT and the Health and Safety Executive.