A propane autogas refueling station

Features built into Superior Energy Systems dispensers are designed with people in mind. For example, there is a lockout timer where the dispenser will automatically shut down if an operator doesn't pump for 35 to 40 seconds.

Photo: Superior Energy Systems

Are you using propane-fueled work trucks? If so, it is essential to follow the best practices for propane fueling safety. 

We recently had the opportunity to interview Mike Walters, the Vice President of Safety and Fleet at Superior Energy Systems, about propane fueling safety best practices for work trucks.

In this excerpt from the interview, Walters discusses fueling training programs and the features built into propane fueling stations to maximize safety. He also talks about the importance of following National Electrical Code (NEC) and how safety ultimately comes down to people and their behavior. 

Propane Autogas Refueling Best Practices

Read on to learn more about Walters' insights on propane fueling safety.

Work Truck: When fueling a propane-fueled work truck, what are the best practices regarding safety?

Walters: Because propane autogas is similar to gasoline, training for fueling is as simple as operating the dispenser. There is a training program within the Propane Education & Research Council's education suite titled "Dispensing Propane Safely," and Superior Energy Systems delivers the module on propane fueling to all of our customers.

Still, it's truly as easy as operating the dispenser. 

WT: What features are built into a propane fueling station that maximizes safety?

Walters: In simple terms, safety is about the people. Features built into Superior Energy Systems dispensers are designed with people in mind. For example, there is a lockout timer where the dispenser will automatically shut down if an operator doesn't pump for 35 to 40 seconds. There is also a pull-away connection, where the hose connects to a pull-away adapter that connects to the dispenser.

On the off-chance of a drive-away with the hose attached, it will detach and trap the gas in both ends of the hose, eliminating release. This is required on all dispensers to prevent a pull-away event.

A red pickup truck being refueling with propane autogas

There is a perception is that propane gas is dangerous. It's not. Yes, it needs to be respected and handled properly, but it's not more dangerous.

Photo: Superior Energy Systems

WT: What is PERC's Certified Employee Training Program (CETP)?

Walters: PERC's Certified Employee Training Program started in 1987 and has served as the industry's primary training program for all these years. PERC is working on a PERC Education Program (PEP) — a modularized format allowing those using it to pick and choose the topics relative to their employees' needs. That will make it more universal to the industry so that propane providers can all select modules to train their employees.

It's not just about training. It's about education. They're not mutually exclusive things. Education is when you provide someone with the knowledge they need to do their job.

WT: How can fleet operators participate in CETP?

Walters: All fleet operators can access the PEP programs. Visit Propane.com and click on the Learning Center to access any safety module. The most frequently accessed example is the "Autogas Technician Training Program."

WT: What is NFPA 70, and why is it crucial to propane fueling safety?

Walters: The National Fire Protection Association provides NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code (NEC). It is significant because it sets parameters for electrical safety. Power is connected to every dispenser, and the National Electrical Code defines the safety zones. It doesn't matter if the fuel is propane, diesel, kerosene, or whatever. It ensures there are no ignition sources near the dispenser's operation.

WT:  What is it like to be an LP Gas industry Hall of Famer?

Walters: It's a dream. You sit out there year after year and watch people be inducted and say to yourself, "I wonder what it would be like if …," and then it happens. Sometimes, you're excited; sometimes, you're humbled. After the awards ceremony, I couldn't get 10 feet without someone talking to me.

I'm eternally grateful to the people who poked, prodded, and presented opportunities to me — even forcing me to do things I may not have been ready to do. But now it's back to business as usual.

A white pickup being refueled with propane autogas

Training and education are a subset of safety — people can make better decisions that avoid accidents or injuries.

Photo: Superior Energy Systems

WT: What are the most common safety hazards or misconceptions you encounter in your work, and how do you address them?

Walters: This answer could go in 15 different directions — I'll give you three. The perception is that propane gas is unsafe. It's not. Yes, it needs to be respected and handled properly, but it's not less safe. Propane has the lowest carbon footprint of all fuels, including natural gas. But people don't know what the industry knows about this product. 

Misconceptions about safety are that safety is about compliance and equipment. If you comply with all the codes and have good working equipment, you're safe. However, safety still comes back to people and their behaviors that put them in a bad position that leads to injury or accident.

Training and education are a subset of safety — people can make better decisions that avoid accidents or injuries. The code is put in place to help people be safe.

WT: What advice would you give someone new to working with propane or autogas vehicles?

Walters: I tell students to follow the code in every class I teach. But if you see something you don't understand, stop and get someone to help you with it. That's what I mean when I say safety boils down to people and their behavior.

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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