Propane and Propane Training More Accessible Than Ever
By Tammy Hirsch
The propane industry across Canada has spent much of the past 10 years making itself more convenient and more available to the consumer. Through accessible fill up stations, or increasingly, tank exchange programs, purchasing propane for backyard BBQs, the campsite, the boat or RV, has become as convenient as picking up snacks and drinks to keep the kids busy on a long road trip.
The Canadian Propane Association is committed to helping member companies improve accessibility and availability of propane and propane accessories to all retailers because adding propane to their product mix is added value for their customer base.
Many multi-purpose gas stations have a propane filling station for people to refill the ever popular 20 lb cylinders or ASME tanks in RVs. A growing alternative to installing a propane refilling station is the convenience of a propane tank exchange program. Retailers who are unable to have a propane refilling station are more and more turning to exchange programs. The concept takes the filling and refurbishment of propane cylinders to off-site locations and creates an easy transaction for convenience stores and gas stations. The exchange cage is kept full by the supplier based on demand and is modified for seasonal fluctuations.
Depending on what services are offered, training employees that work with propane can be required. Your employees who are handling propane at a refilling station need to be properly trained and understand the properties of the product they are working with. That trend towards more accessible and efficient services to customers is also reflected in the training process, with the digitization of training for employees of filling stations, and convenience stores.
For the convenience store, or fuel retailer who is providing propane re-fuelling stations, it’s imperative that employees handling the product are certified and up-to-date with the regulations. All provincial regulators require certification to fill cylinders for domestic or commercial usage.
The Canadian Propane Association’s Propane Training Institute (PTI) provides the country’s most comprehensive suite of propane training courses. PTI’s courses meet every federal, provincial and territorial regulation governing the safe transport and handling of propane and is available in both official languages.
To match the availability of the product, the PTI has been steadily adapting its course material into digital delivery formats. While all the courses are available in printed materials delivered to most parts of the country in under 48 hours, and digital PDF formats instantly downloadable, more and more courses are available in interactive online formats, including exams. Certification is also completely digitized and can be available within hours or days of completion of courses.
While most of the training needs to be supervised by a certified trainer, the addition of online training materials increases the efficiency of training operations. For convenience stores where shiftwork is standard, this allows students to do the courses in off hours if necessary and receive their certificates through their online profiles in a matter of hours not weeks.
For operations with large seasonal fluctuations and turnover of staff, this also allows for more efficient training schedules and easier compliance with the regulations. And, as the country comes out of the COVID-19 imposed lockdowns, social distancing and other safety measures, many of the changes to remote virtual training will remain an option for both trainers and trainees.
“PTI was already heading towards online solutions to training before the pandemic restrictions were imposed,” explained Bruce Leslie, PTI executive director. “The pandemic certainly accelerated the move to online learning, as it did in many other aspects of education and business, and we are helping to lead the way in our sector.”
The move to more virtual learning has led to a hybrid education model whereby a trainer or employer located anywhere in the country can access PTI propane courses. This allows regions of the country, where certified trainers for particular courses may be far away, to access the training they need to be re-certified or enter the industry.
“Remote locations require creative training solutions,” Leslie added. “We will work with our network of member company and independent trainers to find the best solutions for any business. Like the product itself, we want to make the training available to people and businesses wherever they are located. We also want to thank those convenience store owners and operators who are offering propane as an alternative green energy source and spreading the word about how easy it is to provide the product to their customers.”
For more information about propane training, you can reach out to the Propane Training Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Canadian Propane Association at http://www.propane.ca.
Tammy Hirsch is the sr. communications and marketing director of the Canadian Propane Association. She has been in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years in marketing and communications and stakeholder engagement.