The Future of Safety Inspections in the Propane Sector

Written on: September 6, 2023 by Alex Burns

Safety inspections are a propane industry best practice that marketers utilize to maintain customer safety and reduce liability. If you are a propane marketer, it’s likely that you’re completing safety inspections of propane systems regularly for new customers, move-in and move-out scenarios, and systems that have been modified.

Something that marketers reviewing this process have often wondered is, “How can I create a more efficient process that will lead to time savings for my team? How can we ultimately produce more accurate and complete documentation that will help protect the company?” Today, I’m here to answer that question.

The Impact of Safety Inspections on Your Propane Business
It’s a fact of our industry that field technicians don’t love paperwork. On any given day they could conduct multiple safety inspections, which may not sound like a lot until you consider that just one safety inspection form has 50 fields to complete. This paper-driven process is detrimental to your company’s overall efficiency. After a safety inspection is completed, a paper copy is usually returned to the office where it gets filed with some information and put into back-office software.

Paper safety inspections are significantly more time-consuming for every department involved. Technicians in the field must complete forms for every inspection by hand, then these forms are manually stored in filing cabinets or back-office software by the office team. Using paper forms also makes it difficult for service managers to quickly review the inspections for errors, omissions or follow-ups.

It should come as no surprise, then, that errors happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain a consistent safety inspection process. Technicians must be trained on how to complete the inspections and the forms, and office staff members need to be able to review the paper forms and input the data. Inevitably, the process yields a significant margin for error. Without a process in place to provide real-time feedback on errors that technicians are making, those errors could potentially be made in perpetuity. How, then, can propane marketers maintain this important Industry best practice without sacrificing efficiency or accuracy? One solution is to transition from a paper-driven safety inspection process to a mobile one.

Mobile Safety Inspections Dramatically Increase Efficiency
Mobile safety inspections come with a number of benefits. These include, but are not limited to:

• They’re completed on tablets, instead of by hand on paper.
• They utilize intuitive prompts and form field options to eliminate factors like illegible handwriting or missed form fields to create 100% accurate and complete safety inspections.
• They save time for technicians in the field by automatically sending a completed copy of the mobile safety inspection form to the customer, and another is sent and stored in an electronic database.
• Some platforms can automatically generate management reports, which can help identify important follow-ups and technician performance.
• They offer a unique opportunity to provide feedback right away, proactively correct any errors and prevent recurring issues.

Consider Your Company’s Current Inspection & Documentation Process
A major shift must take place to transition from a paper-driven safety inspection process to a mobile one, so it is important to make sure you are utilizing the best available technology formulated by propane safety experts. While there may be a lot of electronic systems available, not all of them are equipped to store, retrieve and analyze safety inspection data and other compliance documentation.

When you start looking for electronic safety documentation software, consider these questions:

• Can my current back-office software evaluate operating tests?
• Can field technicians use the mobile application service offline, without cellular data or Wi-Fi?
• Can I use the system to analyze critical operating tests, such as leak checks, pressure tests and flow and lock-up tests?
• Can the system report on regulator replacements and cathodic protection inspections?

Now is the best time to transition from paper to mobile to eliminate documentation errors, save time, increase efficiency and reduce risk for your propane company. ICM

Alex Burns is Vice President of the P3 Compliance System division of P3 Propane Safety. You can reach her at or