The Importance of Policies & Procedures
A Guiding Document for Training Employees Online and In-Person
When it comes to establishing a solid safety training program, Policies & Procedures are the first place to start. Policies & Procedures are critical because they help companies meet compliance requirements and reduce liability, but their valuable role in training employees cannot be overlooked. Policies & Procedures are essential to promote a culture of safety in the workplace and offer a standard for all employees to follow. As blended learning between online and in-person training becomes more common in our industry, it is more important than ever to have a Policies & Procedures Manual that serves as a guiding document for all employee training needs.
The propane industry is guided by codes and regulations that can be federal, state, or local. Several key industry stakeholders recommend Policies & Procedures to help propane marketers maintain proper employee training and stay compliant with these codes and regulations include:
- Propane Education & Research Council (PERC)
PERC creates training materials used by propane marketers across the country and have just expanded their offerings to include The Learning Center which provides online training opportunities. Since January 1, 2021, more than 5,000 propane professionals and partners have logged into The Learning Center to complete any of the 400-plus available courses online. With more and more propane professionals training online, like taking CETP courses, it is critical that propane marketers have a clearly defined set of Policies & Procedures to support online and blending learning materials. Source: PERC Update, The Propane Education & Research Council, April 2021
For example, CETP 1.0 states in Module 2: “Know your company Policies & Procedures for documenting safety-related contacts with the customer. Be sure to document the question or concern that has been raised along with your response.”
- DOT and OSHA Regulations
Policies & Procedures help companies maintain compliance and ensure employees are properly trained to meet DOT and OSHA roles and requirements.
- Insurance Underwriters
Many insurance underwriters affirm that propane marketers should have a Policies & Procedures Manual in place for many tasks, including handling gas leak calls as well as interruption of service calls.
Keeping Policies & Procedures Up to Date
Think about it, you aren’t training new employees to follow outdated training guidelines. Make sure your Policies & Procedures Manual is current so that it can do what it does best, keep daily operations running smoothly and reduce risk. It’s critical that your Policies & Procedures Manual is a living document and that it is updated as your company and code requirements change, and should be reviewed on an annual basis to include these changes. This will allow your team to discover and remediate shortcomings. If you have Policies & Procedures, when was the last time you reviewed them? Do you provide training to all employees regularly and to new employees as a part of the onboarding process? If you already have Policies & Procedures, or once you complete your first manual, it is important to recognize that this isn’t a “one and done” deal. For example, recent changes to the OSHA Crane Rule have deeply impacted the way many propane marketers conduct business. Your Policies & Procedures should reflect this new rule and employees should be trained according to your Policies & Procedures so that they are aware of the new crane rule and how it applies to their tasks.
If your company does not yet have a Policies & Procedures Manual, you should have one. Plain and simple. It is crucial in order to train employees, uphold a successful safety program, meet regulatory codes and requirements, and avoid dangerous scenarios or expensive fines. And if you already have Policies & Procedures in place, make sure you review your manual at least once a year and make updates as code requirements change. Working with a safety professional can make reviewing and updating your Policies & Procedures Manual simpler and more convenient, and will ensure that your manual is up to date with industry code changes.
Eric H. Leskinen, executive vice president of Propane Safety Pro, has over 30 years of experience with career progression from field operations to corporate direction. He has designed, managed, and executed safety training and compliance programs for multi-state companies with up to 1100 employees.