Review safety protocols with employees

August 31, 2020 By    

Establishing safety protocols and policies is challenging. Even more challenging is continuous monitoring of their effectiveness to identify gaps that can lead to incidences and non-compliance.

Below are a few safety topics I’ve compiled into bite-sized questions and tips you may want to use as a guide to review some of your safety protocols with employees.

Train your employees on how to respond in an emergency. Photo by LP Gas staff

Train your employees on how to respond in an emergency. Photo by LP Gas staff

Odor and out-of-gas calls

  • Train customer service representatives to handle such calls.
  • Develop scripts to ensure consistency of message.
  • Train drivers and technicians in leak detection and mitigation.
  • Make sure they know how and when to conduct leak tests.

Employee training

  • Train via U.S. Department of Transportation and Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules requiring general and task or site-specific training 90 days prior to working alone.
  • Complete refresher training every three years per NFPA 58 requirements.

Personal protective equipment

  • Conduct job hazard analyses to determine the need for PPE and the proper equipment.
  • Train employees on using and maintaining PPE.

Emergency response

Natural disasters:

  • Ensure fuel supply.
  • Address vehicle, plant and equipment safety.
  • Plan communications with customers, employees and local government.

Plant emergencies (fire, leak, explosions and natural disasters):

  • Develop shutdown and evacuation procedures.
  • Prepare for emergency medical procedures.
  • Train employees.
  • Plan communications with customers, employees and local government.

Static electricity hazards

  • Identify areas of the plant that may generate static electricity, also known as static control areas.
  • Train employees on recognizing and mitigating static electricity hazards.
  • Deploy PPE or other controls to minimize static electricity hazards.

Customer communications

Prepare written materials explaining:

  • High snow preparations, such as clearing a path to the tank and making house numbers visible.
  • Propane winter safety such as early fill-ups, never bringing appliances into the home and detecting gas odors.

Employee development and cross-training

A review of employee and manager safety responsibilities also provides an excellent opportunity to develop new hires and to cross-train staff on tasks they may not have been hired for originally but may be required to fulfill. Cross-training employees, especially new ones, provides them with expertise on many propane-related tasks, which not only keeps employees busy and motivated but allows them to fill in seamlessly for an absent co-worker.

Looking back, looking forward

Looking back on successes, failures and improvements is always beneficial but often difficult to do during the height of the heating season. Consider holding safety talks now to review some of the highlights of the previous heating season and lessons to be learned. Topics could include documentation, policy reviews, infractions, handling verbal altercations with customers, customer accolades and many other items.

Encourage your team to speak freely about some of the challenges they faced last season, and listen to their recommendations. They are the ones on the front lines and should be heard from throughout the year.

Stuart Flatow spent 18 years as the Propane Education & Research Council’s vice president for safety and training before stepping down in February 2019.

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed herein are solely the author’s and should in no way be interpreted as those of LP Gas magazine or any of its staff members.

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