Assisted by the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association (PPMA) and the training specialist Safety Pass Alliance (SPA), the scheme is similar to that set up for suppliers to the food and drinks industry from 1 January 2003, which has since qualified over 9,000 engineers and contractors' staff.
From January 2004 it became mandatory for visiting service engineers to hold a Safety Passport to allow them access to end user sites in the food sector. This will now extend to the pharmaceutical sector, although it is recognised that most, if not all, drug companies already put visiting service engineers and contractors through their own induction course to ensure that product integrity is in no way compromised.
"Safety passports for the pharmaceutical and allied industries will make factory safety much simpler to ensure by demonstrating that the holder has been trained and examined in safe working practices to an industry-approved standard," said Will Hooper, chairman of the Pharma Safety Passport Steering Group and environmental health and safety advisor at pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly.
He said that Eli Lilly would become the first company to implement the safety passport scheme, making it mandatory in early 2006 as part of its approved supplier system.
"We expect the scheme will gather momentum over the next few months as many more manufacturers formally announce their backing,' said PPMA president Mike Randall.
Training courses from the PPMA and other SPA accredited providers will become available by May, he added.