New training requirements set forth in NFPA 58

February 25, 2014 By and    

Are you aware of the latest changes and clarifications in NFPA 58?

The training of employees is an important part of running a successful and safe propane operation.

I periodically write about how training is a topic that is explored in litigated cases. The industry goes to great lengths to provide needed training materials for its employees to help them perform their jobs competently and safely.

From time to time, the training requirements set forth in NFPA 58 have been changed or clarified. The 2014 edition of NFPA 58 has set forth more specific criteria for satisfying the training requirements of employees in the industry. Let’s look at these new code provisions.

Section 4.4 and its subparts set forth the new code provisions on industry training. Per section 4.4.1, employees in the industry “shall be provided training that is consistent with the scope of their job activities.” This training is relative to activities that fall within the scope of NFPA 58. It must include training on “proper handling” and “emergency response procedures.”

At section 4.4.2, the code specifies that industry employees whose “primary duties” include (1) transporting LP gas, (2) transferring LP gas into or out of stationary containers or (3) installing stationary containers “shall” complete training in some specific areas.

This list of required training is more detailed than in past codes. It “shall” include training in five separate areas. Each must be documented, and refresher courses must be documented every three years. See sections 4.4.3 and 4.4.4.

The five areas of training the code now requires under section 4.4.2 are:
(1) safe work practices, (2) the health and safety hazards of propane, (3) emergency response procedures, (4) supervised on-the-job training and (5) an assessment of the person’s ability to perform the job duties assigned.

When all of the subsections of section 4.4 are read together, you should conclude that job-specific training is required in addition to the training required under section 4.4.2 and parts 1-5.

The requirement for documented supervision of “on-the-job training” is new. In my opinion, it should be read in conjunction with the requirement to assess the job performance of an employee. The employee should not be allowed to perform a task that is subject to the code until a supervisor has determined that he or she is able to perform the task competently.

The code does not provide any detail as to what constitutes adequate training to meet code requirements. The litmus test is always the competence of the employee. Documentation of training by way of certificate from classes attended, tests showing pass or fail and sign-ins from monthly safety meetings are all acceptable.

Supervision of on-the-job training and confirming competency should be an area that you pay attention to. The time needed to supervise someone to conclude he or she is competent is hard to specifically define. It is a judgment call that includes several variables; the complexity of the task, the danger associated with the task and the experience of the employee are just some of the considerations.

It will be important to document in a meaningful way the employee’s competency. Keep in mind the code contemplates documentation beyond the successful completion of tests. It seeks some form of written confirmation of real-world competency. Many courses offer this hands-on training but not all do, especially online training. So keep that in mind.

Take heed of the new code requirements about training. Incorporate them into your company and document your training. This will help you be safe and avoid accidents.

John V. McCoy is with McCoy Leavitt Laskey LLC, and his firm represents industry members nationally. He can be reached at 262-522-7007 or jmccoy@MLLlaw.com.

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