Written on: July 18, 2022 by Wes Sheppard
Whether you own, operate or manage a propane business, safety training is always at the top of your priority list. Proper training is critical to meet the many compliance and regulatory requirements in our industry, keep employees safe on the job and provide customers with the very best service. If you are onboarding your employees with propane skills training and conducting refresher training as needed, you’re off to a great start. But does your propane safety program include routine safety meetings?
Safety meetings are an integral part of any propane safety program because company-wide communication is essential to maintain compliance with DOT, OSHA, and other State propane regulatory requirements. Creating a monthly calendar of safety and operational topics is a key strategy that can help you save time, reduce risk and improve efficiency overall.
Safety meetings are recommended on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on your company’s unique schedule and staffing situation. And before you start to worry about adding another item to your ever-growing to-do list, here are some tips to set up a safety meeting schedule and the benefits you will see once you do.
Incorporating Routine Safety Meetings into Your Busy Schedule
Combine with your monthly plant and truck inspections.
It is ideal to conduct safety meetings once per month. This gives your managers and staff a designated time to get together each month to review training topics, ask operational questions and generally catch up along with conducting required monthly plant and truck inspections. If busy schedules or staffing constraints make monthly meetings a challenge, schedule your safety meetings quarterly instead.
Choose topics in advance.
Scrambling at the last minute for a safety meeting topic or materials prior to first-of-the-month paperwork can add strain to your management team’s already-packed schedule. Instead, get together with your leadership to select monthly (or quarterly) meeting topics in advance. If possible, consider a 12-month safety calendar that allows plenty of time to collect materials and schedule your agenda. Topics can be selected based on seasonal needs like leak check procedures before the busy season, operational improvement areas such as cathodic protection testing, or annual refresher training like PPE reminders.
Going into each meeting with a specific topic and general agenda will not only help the leaders conduct the meeting but also give technicians, drivers and staff the opportunity to really focus on the topic at hand.
Collect training guides and materials.
Make sure you have a training handout or some type of source material to go along with each meeting’s topic. Provide handouts for your employees to follow along with during the meeting and to hold onto to reference in the future. Quizzes can be a helpful way to evaluate each employee’s understanding of the topic and document relevant training. When incorporating your materials, be concise to a single discussion topic with a meeting goal of 30 minutes or less for material review, employee testing and documentation.
Update your calendar each year.
Finally, it’s recommended that you refresh your safety meeting calendar each year. Maybe you did not cover a particular topic, or you have some that should be revisited annually. Plan at least 9–10 new safety meeting topics each year with the option of having two annually recurring safety meetings for items such as DOT security plan review or fire extinguisher training. Either way, setting up your schedule for the upcoming year will help your team stay on top of routine safety meetings.
Benefits of Regular Safety Meetings
It can be a challenge to stick to a regular meeting schedule in the propane business, especially once the busy season starts and your drivers and technicians are needed more in the field. However, if you can get into a groove with monthly or quarterly safety meetings, you will see lasting benefits that extend beyond the service department, including:
Improved employee performance
Regular safety meetings will allow your service technicians, delivery drivers and office staff to ask operational questions, further develop their skills and learn to resolve any errors before they happen.
Increased efficiency for management
Combining a 15- to 30-minute monthly safety meeting with your monthly plant and truck inspections can save time, answer operational questions and pass along important regulatory information to all employees.
Maintain compliance with greater ease
Your safety meeting calendar and pre-planning also help to document your company’s overall safety program and provide a paper trail for your code compliance. You’ll have a record of when certain topics and requirements were covered, tested and documented. As a bonus, check with your State regulator to see if you may receive CEU hours for the safety testing and documentation.
Don’t Wait until the Fall! Get Started with Safety Meetings Now. ICM
If you aren’t sure where to start or would like some help planning a calendar and collecting training materials, P3 Propane Safety can help. Visit p3propane.com to connect with a propane safety expert who can help create your safety meeting schedule, provide customized training materials, and refresh your program each year.