10 safety checks to complete during the off-season

July 13, 2023 By    

When we think of tasks to complete during the off-season, tank maintenance and painting usually come to mind, but there is much more we can do to improve safety while adding value to our operation and peace of mind for our employees and customers.

Start by walking around. Walk around your office, bulk plant and vehicles. Look for hazards and worn-out equipment. Consider improvement needs. Evaluate maintenance and housekeeping, everything from electrical and trip hazards to faded signage and unsecured steps and handrails. Develop a punch list. Prioritize the tasks and establish a work plan that you and your personnel can complete over the summer. Consider these 10 safety checks:

1. Training: Review your training files for each employee. Explore the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) Learning Center to see the CETP and non-CETP courses available to all drivers, technicians, cylinder workers and customer service representatives. Establish minimum requirements for each job type and work with your personnel to complete needed courses. Engage your suppliers, insurance carrier and authorities having jurisdiction to assist with group training. They are eager to assist you.

2. Site-specific security plan: Every office and plant must have one. All personnel must be trained on the contents, and the owner or manager must review and update the plan annually.

3. Evacuation plan: As with the site-specific security plan, every office and plant must have a published evacuation plan, and every employee must be trained in what to do, who to contact and where to assemble in an emergency such as a fire, major product discharge or storm.

4. Personal protective equipment (PPE): All personnel must be trained on PPE before they begin to use it and again at least annually. This includes eye, hand, head and foot protection; reflective vests; respirators; and whatever else your company policy may require.

Benny Gay

5. Fire extinguishers: Every employee must know where to locate a fire extinguisher and how to use it, whether in an office, at a plant or on a vehicle. They must know how to inspect a fire extinguisher regularly. Your local fire departments are eager to come on-site to perform this training for you.

6. Fire safety analysis (FSA): An FSA is required for each plant. Each employee must be trained in the contents, and an owner or designated manager must review the plan at least annually, updating the details as needed.

7. Operation and maintenance plan: Also required for each plant, all company personnel must be trained on operation and maintenance contents. In addition, plan details should be reviewed and updated annually by an owner or manager.

8. Safety day: Set aside at least one day a year to emphasize safety. Certainly, every day is safety day, but you can include activities like training and group walk-arounds. Have all personnel look for electrical and slip and fall hazards. Inspect and test emergency shutoff valves. Perform meter creep tests. Inspect fences, gates, doors, windows and security lights. Look for missing or faded signage.

9. Vehicle inspection: Take time to review daily pre- and post-trip inspection requirements with your drivers. Call in DOT or state police to conduct on-site vehicle inspection and training.

10. First aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator: Schedule your local Red Cross, community college or firefighters to perform this important training for your team. It’s usually offered for free, and the benefits are priceless.

Finally, summer is a good time to communicate safety education to your customers.

PERC offers “Important Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family” (Item PRC 003121), a great tool that you can mail or hand distribute to educate your customers on the safe use of propane and what to do in case of leak, odor or another emergency.

Benny Gay is vice president of operational support at ThompsonGas. He can be reached at bennygay@thompsongas.com.

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