Don’t reinvent the wheel

April 1, 2008 By    

The practice of a trial lawyer is carried out from a unique vantage point. I have an ability to see the problems that face the industry that result in real conflict. There is enough conflict that people are driven to involve a lawyer to address the matter. In fact, I have a steady diet of problems that face members of this industry on my desk at all times.

John V. Mccoy
John V. Mccoy

Catastrophic fires and explosions are rare events in the propane industry. However, when they happen, they are often very sad events to all involved.

In my long history of working with companies involved in lawsuits, I have to review what policies and procedures are in place to deal with training, safety and compliance. I’ve concluded that many companies in the industry are not taking advantage of resources available in areas of training, safety and compliance. These areas help you reach the goal of a safe operation that meets industry standards.

Since the advent of NPGA and now PERC, there have been scores of documents that have been drafted to assist industry members in meeting the training, safety and compliance needs of your company.

I often get e-mails from readers asking where they might go to get more specific guidance about issues being discussed in a particular column. One of my recent columns dealt with evacuation plans for employees at off-premise locations. I received several inquiries about that article and also spoke with PERC’s Stuart Flatow about that topic.


He asked me to remind readers that PERC has a Compliance Requirement Guide on its Web site that can be used as a template for developing an evacuation plan of this nature. It is entitled Employee Emergency Plans and Fire Prevention. It is Compliance Guide No. OSHA 8. It is found at, and you will need to follow the prompts to this part of the site.

Through PERC, the industry has gone to great lengths to develop tools that will help you meet training requirements for your employees in the most convenient way possible. Much of that training can now be done over e-learning or over the Internet. PERC has developed training manuals, DVDs and warnings literature that is state of the art. Be sure to become knowledgeable of this treasure trove of information and implement it into your company.

NFPA 58 and 54 are adopted in various states and looked to by the courts as a requirement for various parts of a gas system installation. There are also myriad federal laws and regulations that impact the business. However, while these laws set requirements, they don’t describe the process needed to meet these state, federal and regulatory requirements. The documents and training materials put out by PERC provide the means to achieve implementation of these requirements.

This training also is provided by many private training groups.

The important point is that doing nothing is not an option. When you are implementing your training, safety and compliance program, please use the well-crafted information that has been developed in the industry. Well-intentioned and highly regarded members of this industry have put together some great work that has been properly vetted to help you meet the objective of a well-trained workforce, a well-educated consumer, safe installations and, ultimately, fewer accidents.

In the end, this can achieve another goal that is important to any business and any employee – a viable business over the long term.

John V. McCoy is the president of McCoy & Hofbauer, S.C. and specializes in the representation of propane companies. He can be reached at 800-599-8300 or

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