Don’t let safety become a secondary concern

February 9, 2012 By    

The propane industry is going through tough times.

The elusive goal of propane growth has been thrown under the bus by such issues as unusually warm weather, consumer conservation and competition from other energy resources.

This economic climate has discouraged many marketers to the point of selling their business. Decades of family-owned propane companies are being gobbled up by larger companies desperate to grow through acquisition.

It is my observation that during this process of uncertainty, the process of safety becomes a secondary concern. It is time to stay tough on safety.

While NPGA and PERC research and develop new markets for propane with avid pursuit, I suggest we all embrace the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Leaders of all walks of life have used this condition as a platform for resolve and reform. Joseph P. Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy, and football player and Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne are both attributed to originating the phrase.

Bestselling author Robert H. Schuller extols the virtue of success through hard work and determination in his book titled “Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do!”

The phrase “tough times” means different things to different people. Some fight through the process of re-educating, rebuilding and re-adjusting their goals. Others simply pray for good fortune to return.

I remember years ago hearing a motivational speaker tell the crowd in reference to prayer and hope: “After you have leapt about, there are still some things you must do!”

Since 2008, and during the economic downturn, many propane consumers have lost their jobs, their homes and their hope. This economic situation has also led to consumer corner cutting, do-it-yourself handiwork and unsafe propane situations.

PERC has developed a number of excellent consumer safety education tools, designed to educate, inform and prevent accidents. However, this information cannot affect change if the consumer fails to receive and understand it. Your brochures on safe consumer use of propane cannot make their intended impact if they sit on your shelf.

In addition, some plaintiff’s attorney will challenge your efforts in an attempt to discredit – not just your company, but the entire industry. When a propane accident occurs, it impacts the propane industry as a whole.

In some cases, tighter industry regulations have been needlessly initiated in the aftermath of tragedy – needless because, in my opinion, current training and code requirements should prevent most accidents. Management needs to implore those they employ to comply.

It’s time to be tough. Unwavering determination and commitment are required when courage and resources are in short supply.

It is important for all leaders in the propane industry to understand that, given current levels of litigation pursuit in the name of justice, the stakes have never been higher.

If you think times are tough now, imagine the legal ramifications of a preventable accident hanging over your head and your balance sheet. Visualize your insurance rates escalating at a time when you have fewer resources with which to pay premiums as you try to transfer the risk.

Here are a few simple thoughts that can help you stay tough on safety:

Employees – Train them early and train them often
Consumers – Warn them early and warn them often
Managers – Inspect what you expect with no apologies

I understand that talk is cheap and that faith in the face of adversity can be fleeting – let alone hard to accomplish.

Never forget your heritage. Soon we will be celebrating 100 years of propane productivity and prosperity. Let’s celebrate with the dignity and the knowledge that we all got here by staying tough on safety – even in tough times.

Comments are currently closed.