Who are your safety stakeholders?

September 1, 2003 By    

When I give a presentation I always list the stakeholders. That’s because every presentation, regardless of topic, begins with understanding issues and being aware of all people and associations that have a stake in the process.

On one hand the propane marketer must be aware of exposures that drive liability costs and on the other hand, they must teach, train and sell safety like their corporate assets are on the line – because they are.

Known safety procedures such as Gas Check or equivalent on older systems, leak checks on all out-of-gas calls, employee training and examining systems for code compliance are obvious priorities. The not-so-obvious exposures (soon to be priorities) are those gray areas of end users, such as renters, seasonal dwellers, habitually out-of-gas customers and do-it-yourselfers. One of the newer concerns relates to contractors who work on your customers systems.

Only through specifically applied communications can we prevent incidents before they happen. Yesterday’s incident is simply old news, and regret is a wasted emotion.

We are in a litigious society and it seems everything we do or don’t do is challenged in the courts. It may seem unfair, in relation to the liability exposures of other energy industries, but we cannot stick our heads in the sand or complain about the liability weather.

Make a list of stakeholders that might benefit from expanded communication from your company. From that list, make a second list of what actions or communications you could initiate to prevent a needless tragedy from happening to one of your customers.

For example, HVAC contractors may work on your customer’s system without your knowledge, resulting in an explosion. What type of proactive communication might be designed to educate both the customers and contractors of exposures of uncapped lines and open shutoff valves during the work process? How could you involve your fire marshal or emergency personnel in educating contractors and customers about the potential problem? Are there related issues that should have regulations with more teeth? Who should you visit with about that?

Nobody knows your customers and your territory better than you. Beginning with the premise objective of prevention, what would you tell them? How would you tell them? How often would you tell them?

I always mention the Marketing Rule of 7. That means customers, employees, contractors and all stakeholders must hear from you seven times before they buy into a concept or buy a product. To demonstrate that I practice what I preach, my monthly newsletter goes to over 3,000 marketers around the country and my magazine articles in LP Gas Magazine go to more than 15,000 people. So at least 3,000 people hear from me 24 times per year, including insurance carriers, loss control representatives, claim adjusters, association executives and equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

Are your customers and stakeholders hearing from you about important issues often enough to create clear communication?

I would encourage you to think outside the box before an incident and warn everyone involved or who has a stake in the process with communication that begins like this: “Because we care, we want you to be aware of how to use propane safely.”

Remember, safety communications are only about being defendable AFTER an incident and it is BEFORE an incident that such communication can achieve prevention.

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