Checking for safety compliance issues

August 22, 2016 By    

Photo by Kevin Yanik

Hot nights and early garden harvests are signs of summer’s ending.

Each month of the year has significant dates and celebrations. For me, August is the best time to climb out of the hammock of summer haze and look around.

After looking around for a misplaced item at my age, I eventually find it right under my nose in many cases. Yes, sometimes my lost glasses are on top of my head. A simple look in the mirror makes me feel foolish, yet thankful to have found them.

That’s the way it is when we take the time to look around and become aware of safety. When we find items that need attention, we are frustrated, yet thankful, to have found a problem before the problem found us. As vacation season winds down, I recommend managers use the time now to look around for issues that require safety awareness.

For example, a propane retailer might hold off on employee training compliance, CETP and refresher training due to a long winter. And due to the cost of training, some companies delay this important process when business is slow in the summer. However, August is a good time to become aware of which employees need to update training certifications and to establish a plan for completion.

I am a firm believer in education and the need for continuing education. As an insurance agent, I have to comply with continuing education requirements, as do many other professions. It’s when you fail to comply that you become vulnerable with a challenge of competence.

August is also a time to become aware of housekeeping issues that might have been overlooked during the rest of the year. Look for unsafe situations that may be right under everybody’s noses.

For instance, one year I was performing a site inspection along with a safety audit and found a 20-pound cylinder inside a shop building in a propane plant. The cylinder was fueling a dryer used to dry shop rags. The owner didn’t believe me, but when I went to take the picture, the cylinder was gone but the regulator and hose were lying on the washer. That picture tells the story.

Additionally, the story of the crane operator who was electrocuted while moving tanks inside a propane plant should give pause to all managers to look around their plants and see whether operations could be more safely organized. One example might be plant cylinder filling operations that can sometimes become a wall of exposure in a confined space with limited escape routes.

On the topic of cylinder filling, I recommend managers remain aware of emergency shutoff compliance exposures for all owned and non-owned dispensing cabinets. Just because some systems are grandfathered doesn’t mean they’re safe.

Looking around truck cabs for clutter is another form of awareness to tackle prior to your busy season. It’s amazing how much junk gets accumulated. Some of those items might start to fly around in a panic stop, which could cause an accident. Make a list of loose objects in the cab and how they might be better secured. With those upcoming long hours inside the cabs, clutter awareness today might prevent an accident tomorrow.

Also, become aware of any customer clutter and system compliance to prevent accidents. In my presentations on awareness, I have a photo of a 20-pound cylinder duct taped to a 100-pound tank system – an obvious do-it-yourselfer accident waiting to happen. Not all situations are that obvious, which is why we must do our best to stay aware of unsafe exposures at our customer locations.

Be aware, look around and you will find the things being done right, some things that need attention and a few things that may require immediate action to prevent an accident. Being aware shows you care. It’s the safety way.

Jay Johnston ( is an insurance executive, safety management consultant and inspirational safety speaker in the propane industry. Jay is the publisher of The Safety Leader newsletter and author of the book “The Practice of Safety” and “A Leap of Faith Takes Courage.” Jay can be reached at or 612-802-0663.

Photo by Kevin Yanik

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