Earlier this year, industry stakeholders and the representative body –  the ACAPMA Equipment and Services Council – met to discuss the roll-out of a national scheme for the recognition of petroleum contractors.

The practical approach of the scheme will assist in the consistency of quality and service in the industry, and facilitate the engagement of best practice businesses for contracted works on fuel sites.Its development is advancing rapidly after a Steering Committee meeting in Melbourne recently, and will be launched to the industry in late September 2015 at the ACAPMA National Conference.

The use of skilled and qualified contractors, with proven experience in the specific and exacting works on fuel sites, is the aim of the industry.  However, locating these skilled businesses, and verifying their qualifications has been difficult due to the lack of a national recognition scheme.

Establishing that a contractor is qualified to complete the core task, such as electrical work needing to be done by a licenced electrician, can be exceedingly difficult, especially determining whether the contractor has the necessary understanding of the unique requirements and standards  in operation in a fuel site.  This can result in fuel businesses employing general contractors (i.e. demolition and civil contractors) to perform specialised work in a hazardous environment, which is a risk to people, property and the environment.

While mechanisms exist for the training of these contractors in petroleum industry practices, these mechanisms are not consistent across the industry. Larger, more sophisticated, fuel businesses tend to implement their own verification schemes and apply their own training requirements.  Unfortunately, there are marked differences between the requirements of each of these mechanisms, meaning that petroleum contractors are generally required to undertake multiple training programmes that effectively seek to do the same thing.

In many cases, if the fuel business does not institute its own specific fuel site verification scheme, even these entry level training mechanisms are not well understood or applied. Leading to smaller fuel businesses struggling to locate and engage appropriately skilled contractors. This difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that, absent the business putting in its own scheme, even entry level training in the fuel industry is, in many cases, not compulsory for the performance of contracted works.

“At a meeting of stakeholders in Melbourne earlier this year, the clear consensus of stakeholders was that the current approach of business driven compliance is providing high level service and quality works, however there is a substantial industry appetite for developing national consistency, reducing duplication and facilitating a clear way for smaller fuel businesses to locate and identify qualified and competent contractors,” ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie said.

Accordingly, ACAPMA has set about developing a National Recognition Scheme designed to help downstream petroleum businesses manage the inherent risks associated with contracted works.

Specifically, ACAPMA is working to create a national recognition framework and contractor registration scheme that allows the owners of fuel businesses to readily understand whether contractors have completed the training programmes needed to competently and safely complete the work required, as well as are in possession of the appropriate insurances and are financially viable.

“Rather than reinvent the wheel, we are seeking to operate a national scheme that recognises contracting businesses and contract personnel that have completed training programs in areas such as fuel site induction programs, cold work operations, hot work operations, temporary traffic management and permit writing,” Mark said.

The program will seek evidence from contracting businesses that all field staff have completed appropriate  training while also conducting a top level review of company insurances and company credit history.

“Our aim is to improve the situation by providing a nationally consistent mechanism for recognition of those contractors whose staff are appropriately trained, have the necessary insurances, and are financially sound,” Mark said

The scope of the scheme was agreed at a National Steering Committee held in Melbourne this week.

“The industry has been struggling with this issue for many years and it is complicated by some substantial public safety, commercial and liability consideration.  The ACAPMA secretariat is now working on the design of the National Recognition Scheme and is happy to receive input from all parties with an interest in the issue,” Mark said.

Further information will be provided via this E-News service and  www.acapmag.com.au

In the meantime, businesses or individual wishing to discuss this matter further should contact the Secretariat on 1300 160 270 or email us at communications@acapma.com.au