“There are upwards of 700 fuel tankers in Northern Ireland,” says NIOF director David Blevings.
“To make sure vehicles are safe and fit for purpose, there’s a plethora of legislation. BUT, this legislation is split between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Department of Environment (DOE), the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVTA) and the Health & Safety Executive (NI) HSENI.
“Tank testing is HSENI’s responsibility and NIOF members would argue that compliance with legislation, and indeed enforcement, is not even-handed across Northern Ireland. For complaint companies this results in higher running costs and provides opportunities for misuse by those not receiving visits and checks by the various agencies.
“Current goods vehicle testing is carried out by DVTA and focuses on the vehicle chassis, cab and running gear but excludes an inspection of the tank. The standard Public Service Vehicle (PSV) test does not focus on the tank and a valid PSV certificate can be currently issued in Northern Ireland without a valid tank certificate!
“Our members believe that a number of vehicles are therefore not subjected to periodic tank inspection and this is a major issue for public safety. It is our desire that there should be a level playing field for all distributors and it would be beneficial if these vehicles/owners were identified and made to comply.”
A simple solution
A simple solution put forward by NIOF is the incorporation of the tank test within the PSV test. NIOF representatives have met with the chief executive of HSENI, which currently oversees tank testing, and asked for an investigation into the possibility of moving the requirement to DVTA. This would mean that at a PSV test the vehicle’s owner would be asked to present the certificate for tank integrity;if this is not presented then DVTA would refuse to conduct the PSV.
“The introduction of the requirement for presentation of a tank integrity certificate at PSV would be a major step forward in improving compliance with the current legislation. The PSV is a mandatory test which is easily checked by PSNI and others at vehicle check points via the disc. If the vehicle’s operator had to provide a tank integrity certificate at PSV test this would provide another method of conformity/compliance and closes another loophole in the current system. Our conversations with HSENI to date have been very positive and they have welcomed the proposal.”