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Training for new Fuel Tanker Drivers starters - Good practice

Training for new Fuel Tanker Drivers starters - Good practice

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Claire O'Brien
/ Categories: News

Downstream Fuel Distribution Forum

Training for new Fuel Tanker Drivers starters - Good practice

March 2024


The Downstream Fuel Distribution Forum (DFDF) was established in 2012 to provide a collaborative platform for the discussion and resolution of issues relating to health and safety as well as training in the downstream fuel industry. Its membership ranges from hauliers, to trade associations, government departments - namely the Department for Transport and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero - and trade unions. As part of its early collaborative work, in 2014, the DFDF launched the Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) Scheme, a voluntary industry scheme, supported by government, designed to ensure that all tanker drivers in the UK are trained and assessed to a consistent standard in loading, transporting and offloading petroleum fuel products from road tankers. Ten years on from its launch, over 11,000 tanker drivers in the UK hold a PDP card demonstrating to terminal operators, hauliers, customers and the wider public that they have been trained to the same consistently high and externally verified standard in all aspects of tanker driving from pre-vehicle checks to loading, driving and discharging.


The fuel distribution sector is reliant on competent drivers. As it looks to the future and to making the most of opportunities ahead in terms of existing and new fuel products, the sector will need to address both immediate and future skills shortages by attracting, training and retaining new tanker drivers. Indeed, against the backdrop of a high proportion of the workforce set to retire in the short to medium term who will take with them critical skills, knowledge and experience, as well as competition for talent more widely, the sector must act now if it is to secure a resilient workforce for tomorrow.


The DFDF strongly supports the recruitment of new drivers and recognises the critical need for extensive training and assessment of potential newcomers prior to them being able to work unsupervised. In this context, the DFDF is clear that the provision of good quality induction and training will not only help to maintain high standards of safety in the industry but also boost the attraction of the sector to new recruits.  In order to aid this process, the DFDF has recently consulted with its haulier members to provide some good practice advice on the training and assessment of new drivers with no previous fuels experience.


The good practice advice is clear in that new drivers must hold the appropriate class of driving licence and ADR. As part of their training, new drivers will also need to pass their written and practical PDP assessments. DFDF further recommends that the initial pre-employment assessment includes a driving assessment as well as an interview stage to ascertain whether the person demonstrates the required attributes to be a tanker driver.


The next step would be for the employer to provide the new starter with a training period with a fuels specific driver trainer. This should include in-depth classroom theory, vehicle and trailer familiarisation, terminal inductions, as well as familiarisation in loading and unloading. Before progressing any further, new drivers should have successfully completed this initial training period. The recommendation is that this is followed by a further period of training/supervision by a driver trainer, with the new driver initially only observing, before progressing to completing loading and delivery workloads under strict supervision, with the new driver gaining experience and confidence at delivery sites. During this period, time needs to be allowed for a driver trainer to coach and assess the driver for safe and efficient driving and slow speed maneuvering.


When the driver trainer/driver coach deems the new driver competent, the new driver needs to take and pass their written and practical PDP assessments.  No unsupervised work should take place until the new driver has passed a full assessment and is able to demonstrate the ability to work to a safe standard aligned with industry and the employer company’s own standards, and holds all the necessary qualifications, including PDP.  Finally, to be able to load unsupervised at a terminal, the new driver will be required to be signed off as competent, typically by demonstrating the ability to load three  loads at the terminal in question.




For those new drivers joining retail, to gain the experience of forecourt delivery’s and locations, they will be required to deliver safely by having a Site Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA) for that Petroleum Filling Station (PFS), and by being aware of ACoP L133 and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR).


Most crucially, it is noted that employers should work on the basis that the training period may need to be extended depending on feedback from the driver trainer, and also taking into account the new driver’s own feedback/confidence.


Another important aspect is that of ensuring that new drivers feel welcomed and supported, especially during their first six months. Employers could consider the establishment of formal mentoring programmes with experienced staff members i.e. buddy up a new driver with a Driver Mentor/Coach once they have completed their PDP practical and terminal pass out.


As ever, ongoing follow-up and assessment is vital to maintain standards. As part of the PDP Scheme, all drivers will be required to take a practical assessment and classroom refresher training every year.  Additional good practice could include: ongoing periodic training; spot checks; sending out a new starter out with a trainer for a day after a few weeks of running solo as a proactive attempt to address any issues that may have crept in before these become habits; write to new drivers to flag the risks associated with the job becoming unconscious, with a reference to the conscious competence models that are out there.


The DFDF is committed to continuing to provide a platform for the discussion of training in the downstream fuel industry and the important work of attracting, training and retaining the next generation of tanker drivers. This good practice advice is testament to this commitment, and the high priority being given to supporting the provision of good quality induction and training for new drivers.



Downstream Fuel Distribution Forum


Contacts:               DFDF Chair:

DFDF Secretariat:

DFDF Technical Expert:


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