Propane Training 101 - don't have a blast

Danny Maron -
Safety First
- 29 Jun 2023 ( #1134 )
3 min read
Danny Maron, owner/trainer of Ideal Forklift Training in Canada’s national capital, is an independent consultant, providing the education lift truck operators require, to businesses and government, to minimise the chance of incidents in the workplace. Before founding Ideal in 2000, Danny was a trainer at Canada’s largest forklift dealer.

With all this talk about lithium-ion powered forklifts, we cannot forget about the millions of propane forklifts still being used by many companies around the world, especially small to mid-size companies who have no current plans to upgrade their equipment anytime soon.

I do not want to get political or voice my opinion about internal combustion engine (ICE) forklifts but they are not going away anytime soon. They still exist and, in most countries, training on propane is mandatory. Here in Canada, as is probably the case in most countries, a competent operator must know how to charge and refuel their lift trucks. That’s the law.

So, what does propane training look like? It all depends on who is providing the course. The simplest and most common way is to take the students outside and have the instructor demonstrate how to exchange the propane cylinder, and if everyone is watching, everyone is now deemed competent to exchange a propane cylinder. That is the quickest and easiest way to train people on propane.

However, there is the proper way and that involves much more. Firstly, there is classroom theory to be delivered to enhance the students’ knowledge regarding propane. Nowadays, most instructors will use PowerPoint to deliver their courses. Although the competency is based upon the knowledge of exchanging a propane cylinder properly and safely, competency goes well beyond just knowing how to properly remove and install a propane cylinder. 

There is a proper way to exchange a propane cylinder
There is a proper way to exchange a propane cylinder

It is as if one were becoming a pilot -- just learning to fly a plane is definitely not enough. The student pilot is required to understand weather patterns, rules of the sky, potential problems and how to overcome them, and the list goes on. Why would knowledge about exchanging a propane cylinder be any different? It is not!

Where does propane come from? How do we get propane? What is propane? What are it’s uses?  Propane vapour versus propane as a liquid. What does propane look like inside the cylinder and what is actually inside the cylinder? The effects of propane both as a liquid and as a vapour. What safety apparel is required when handling the cylinders? What are the freezing and boiling points of propane? What does a propane leak look like? What about propane fires, cylinder storage, O-rings. The list of topics goes on and on.

And then there’s the cylinder itself. Wouldn’t it be great if students learned the inner and outer workings of a propane cylinder? 

In my experience using a demo cylinder with a large cut-out certainly intrigues students as they’ve never seen the inside of a propane cylinder. I know that there is a small cost in doing this but that is part of the cost of doing business. It also takes up a bit of room in the trunck (or boot as others would call it) but if you are a serious trainer the inconvenience is well worth it. Education is not a bad thing and visual props do spice up the learning.

And finally, how and why do we exchange the propane cylinder using the 15 steps to properly perform the task? Once the students understand this concept we can go outside and exchange the propane cylinder properly and safely.

That is what propane training should look like. The training should include tests along the way to ensure everyone understands everything, including the characteristics of propane as well as the cylinder valves themselves, and prove they are aware of how to exchange the cylinders as outlined by the propane associations. Yes, it adds approximately two hours to the day of training but if we do our due diligence, hopefully, everyone arrives home safely. It is the name of the game.

Leave the blasting to those who dig tunnels and mine minerals.

Also Read:
Repurposing lithium forklift batteries to reduce waste
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Repurposing lithium forklift batteries to reduce waste Safety First - 13 Jul 2023 (#1136) Maxim Khabur, director of marketing at OneCharge and chairman of the Advanced Energy Council, tells the story of a forklift battery who found a second life in a Phoenix park solar array.
Why training is your strong foundation for a safer site
Stuart Taylor
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Why training is your strong foundation for a safer site Safety First - 1 Jun 2023 (#1130) Safe operation is based on training, but needs other factors, according to Stuart Taylor.
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