New consumer safety education materials available

September 1, 2005 By    

The propane industry has three new powerful tools to communicate important safety information to its customers that demonstrate the industry’s serious commitment to the safety and well being of propane consumers. The new materials are the first in a series of new consumer safety education tools from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), since they purchased the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP), GAS Check and other safety products from the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) in 2002.

 Stuart Flatow
Stuart Flatow

The new tools replace “Good Ideas for Propane Safety,” “How’s Your Nose” and “Safety Tips for Users of Small Propane Cylinders,” materials that have not been updated in nearly a decade. Led by PERC’s Safety and Training Advisory Committee (STAC), the materials underwent an extensive due diligence process that considered the perspectives of consumers, propane marketers, safety professionals, regulators and others.

Through a number of project teams that included “human factors” experts, designers, writers, industry volunteers and expert legal counsel, the materials were created to fully communicate fundamental consumer safety warnings.

PERC’s contractor, Logica3, interviewed nearly two-dozen propane marketers to better understand how they distribute safety materials, their views of customers’ safety information needs and other consumer safety issues. Based on those interviews, a prioritized list of key safety message themes was developed. And the research didn’t stop there. Two rounds of focus groups with 190 propane consumers helped refine the materials.

“From the research and feedback from consumers, the industry learned how to better communicate,” said Walter Cressman, chairman of STAC’s Consumer Safety Education Subcommittee, which spearheaded the materials revision effort. “For instance, the materials mix together universal and propane-specific icons to make it easy for the reader to follow and understand the safety information in the publication. The icons help to call out important safety instructions and assist customers who have difficulty with reading or comprehension skills.”

Here’s a look at the fruits of the industry’s labor:

The “Propane Safety Booklet” is a comprehensive 28-page guide to residential propane safety and is ideal for new customers. It is designed to assist marketers with “duty-to-warn” compliance and provides an important section where a marketer can place their contact information.

The booklet includes sections on steps to take if you smell gas and recognizing the smell of propane through a scratch-and-sniff feature. It also includes information on odor fade, carbon monoxide safety, appliance safety and maintenance tips. The booklet provides basic information on other safety subjects such as flammable vapor ignition, weather-related emergencies and small cylinder safety. A safety checklist is included to help remind customers of specific safety-related tasks to do right now and at specified times. The “Important Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family Brochure” features steps to take if you smell gas along with information on odor fade, propane gas detectors, carbon monoxide safety, lighting of pilot lights and general appliance maintenance and safety tips. The popular scratch-and-sniff test is included. The eight-panel brochure, which is designed to assist marketers with “duty-to-warn” compliance, fits in a standard business-size envelope and can be used as a self-mailer.

The “Important Propane Safety Information for Users of Small Cylinders Brochure” contains detailed information on important small cylinder safety issues. Sections include steps to take if you smell gas, transportation and storage of cylinders, tampering with cylinders or outdoor appliances, testing for leaks, odor fade, refilling of cylinders and disposal of old or damaged cylinders. It also includes a scratch-and-sniff test.

STAC is also working to produce a new computer-based employee training system based on the CETP curriculum. The first installment, “Basic Principles and Practices,” will be available in a DVD format early next year or even sooner.

The new consumer safety education tools are available for purchase through the Propane Industry Resource Catalog by visiting or calling 866-840-1075. The materials are catalog items PRC 005606, PRC 003121 and PRC 000017.

For more information, contact PERC’s Vice President, Safety & Training Stuart Flatow at 202-452-8975 or

Stuart Flatow has served the propane industry as PERC’s Vice-President of Safety & Training since November 2000. Prior to that, Stuart served the trucking industry for eight years as the director of occupational safety and training for the American Trucking Associations.

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