Create a clear safety education strategy

May 2, 2024 By    

The statement I always used to hear in the propane industry was “safety training,” which is more like a single job task. Now, I try to change that habit and refer to an overall “safety education.” Combining multiple tasks becomes an education.

However, whether you use “education” or “training,” an issue remains: It takes too long and costs too much.

The time invested in education is not the only cost. When you include wages, loss production, sales and travel expenses for an employee, the price can total thousands of dollars. That spending is one of the reasons companies look to other options to accomplish education more effectively and in a way that controls both the time and cost associated with safety education.

One of the most significant issues for many employers in the industry is the need for a strategic focus on their education programs.

Companies educate employees from required programs using text in traditional and e-learning formats. Still, one of the most critical parts to identify is educating employees on the skills needed to perform job tasks and determining what areas of development have been mastered or need further attention. This leads to spending valuable education time on areas that employees already have learned and are comfortable in, and spending too little time identifying the areas where employees need support.

Proper education includes practical skills critical to the tasks being performed and allows for further educational development. It should be essential to the job that is expected to be done now, not one that an employee may do three years from now.

So, how do you address these issues? It takes a reality check.

For an overall education program to have real value, it first must have a clear strategy and execution plan. The program should include knowledge as well as skills.

In the propane industry, we are lucky to have the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which provides all the knowledge programs we could ever want. Companies only have to focus on the skills and competencies of the programs they implement. PERC also provides a guide for the skills and competencies, but you must implement it into your overall program.

Plan for sprints, not a marathon. Many programs need long sessions because you want to be efficient. Resist the pressure of accepting a “one size fits all” program and tailoring programs to the travel schedules of educators. Instead, try finding a way to offer several short subjects that may incorporate several different job types, which may provide more education options to all employees while still addressing the needs of a program schedule.

Shorter subjects allow you to educate and implement until what is learned becomes a habit. Small doses of learning should be followed by a series of quizzes based on open-ended questions so the employee’s brain can develop memories and lead to additional creative thoughts.

During the implementation and repetition phase, give employees tools to practice what they’ve learned. Tools are the bridge between theory and actual knowledge. Today, virtual reality provides an opportunity to explore particular hazardous activities before employees have to perform them.

Spend less, not more. Successful programs don’t require millions of dollars. Using more effective methods will reduce the cost. However, organizations must commit time to implementation, repetition and assessment of what has been learned for several months after the initial session – or it will not be retained or effective, thus creating additional time to reeducate.

Education without implementation is just an intellectual journey. The important question to ask is: Will this education change the way we do things?

The benefit of an adequate education program is having a more safety-conscious workforce and creating an environment where daily actions help protect the lives and property of co-workers, customers and the employees. It all starts with a good safety education strategy, executed through effective education programs that include knowledge and on-the-job training functions.

Randy Warner is product safety manager for Cavagna North America. He can be reached at

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed herein are solely the author’s and should in no way be interpreted as those of LP Gas magazine or any of its staff members.

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