Remember to fall back to safe practices

October 1, 2007 By    

I always forget whether it’s time to turn the clocks ahead or back, and then I remember the phrase I learned in grade school: spring forward/fall back.

Jay Johnston LP/Gas Magazine Columnist
Jay Johnston LP/Gas Magazine Columnist

In the springtime we wind down from a long winter. Your trucks will get a rest and in some cases a restoration. Equipment gets repaired; refresher training and vacation schedules are planned. Hopefully the troops get rested and rejuvenated for the coming fall.

But fall is back. Furnaces are being turned on for the first time, and the flow of propane service and delivery begins again in volume.

Are you ready?

Here are a few thoughts on safety to consider when you get back in the field:

  • Are there any obvious situations where a system is out of code? How far away from the dwelling is the tank? Do any systems have lines that run under public roadways? Do you notice any steel piping that goes underground and may require protection or replacement?
  • Do you have a Gas Check or equivalent system check on file? If not, why not? If not now, when?
  • Do you have a written agreement in place with renters and landlords on change of occupancy notification including warning material about unauthorized work on the system and/or appliance removal?
  • Have you sent a separate warning about issues that may cause sooting with fireplace insets?
  • Have you sent safety information that recommends consumer use of carbon monoxide and gas leak detectors?
  • Do you have certificates of insurance for all vendors including documentation that all employees assigned to handle, fill or change out propane tanks have been trained to do so?
  • Have all employees been trained regarding proper use of personal protection equipment such as gloves, protective eyewear, proper footwear, lifting equipment and proper clothing? Who is in charge of inspecting compliance?
  • Do you have a sign visible to all employees regarding how many days have passed without a lost time worker injury or accident?
  • Have you considered holding a training session for HVAC and building contractors on propane safety and code compliance? I recommend you include a marketing pitch as well to promote you as their preferred gas supplier.
  • Have you considered sponsoring a propane safety education seminar for fire and emergency personnel in your area?

The stakes are high and you cannot afford an accident. It seems like a lot of work, but it’s the price we pay for success in any endeavor. When it comes to safety, it’s how we protect the golden goose.

I highly recommend you make plans this fall to get back into the practice of safety.

Jay Johnston ( is president of Jay Johnston & Associates Inc., specializing in safety audits, insurance consulting and unique speaking presentations for propane marketers. Jay can be reached at 952-935-5350 or

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