The tanker drivers’ union Unite has welcomed the introduction of the new Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) which came into force on January 1 and covers more than 6,000 tanker drivers across England, Scotland and Wales.

The passport, implemented by the Downstream Oil Industry Distribution Forum – a partnership of employers, industry bodies and Unite - is aimed at driving up health and safety standards and will see fuel depots and refineries refusing to load tankers whose drivers do not hold a PDP.

Over the past year several thousand tanker drivers have completed the training accredited by Scottish Qualifications Authority to obtain the passport which covers the safe delivery of petrol and diesel to the nation’s forecourts.

Training is a mixture of classroom and practical learning. The passport is renewed on a five-year cycle, but also has an annual refresher requirement.

Unite national officer Tony Devlin said: “The petroleum driver passport is a real success for our members in helping halting the race to the bottom and drive up standards in health and safety. It will ensure professionalism and bring about stability to a vital, but increasingly fragmented industry which has over 300 contractors in the UK.

“The new system should discourage cowboys and low cost operators who come into to the industry to make a quick buck and then get out again.

”Drivers working for cowboy operators often have little or no idea of the equipment they are supposed to use.

“If the equipment is not properly understood, or the inflammable nature of the product being delivered, then a serious incident or explosion could occur.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland added: "The passport has come about because two years ago, Unite fuel tanker drivers alerted the industry, the public and the government to the dangers posed by the ’race to the bottom’ that was happening in the fuel tanker distribution industry.

“The Petroleum Driver Passport covers health and safety and training standards and was a major part of the Acas agreement that Unite reached with employers. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to everyone for their commitment and hard work.”