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Loss Control Insights

'Out of Gas' Calls Can Mean Trouble

A gas gauge showing empty

According to the Propane Education and Research Council, nearly half of all liquefied petroleum dealers’ liability claims are caused by the failure to inspect and perform leak tests on systems, often following an “out of gas” call. When an “out of gas” condition is caused by a leak, devastating explosions and fires can result. To eliminate potential losses, many dealers have taken measures to reduce the number of times they will respond to “out of gas” calls. However, the real solution to the problem is customer education and employee training.

Consumer Awareness

Provide all customers with information about how to detect a potential leak, what to do if they smell gas and who to call in emergency situations. Make sure customers know that if they are out of gas, delivery personnel must perform a leak check with pressure equipment before refilling the tank. This may mean additional charges for the customer. Encourage customers to sign up for automatic refills to reduce the likelihood of an “out of gas” condition. Be sure to also explain there is a high likelihood of explosion if they relight the tank’s pilot light on their own. If a pilot light is out, the customer should always call the dealer and never try to relight it on their own.

Employees’ Responsibilities

Dealers should train all employees—regardless of whether they are delivery or office personnel-on the organization’s “out of gas” procedures. When an “out of gas” situation is reported, the training program should make sure that:

  • Office personnel receiving the call can recognize the associated hazards, be able to instruct the customers on what they should do and prioritize the service request
  • Delivery personnel who encounter tanks with no pressure know how to properly test and verify the system’s integrity before making the system fully operational

It is also vitally important that any work completed on an “out of gas” call is documented and records are maintained in the customer files for as long as they are retained as customers and five years thereafter.

As customers fill up their tanks for the colder weather, take time to remind them and your staff about “out of gas” procedures. For more information, download the “Out of Gas” Procedure Tech Sheet available from EMC or check out this online training module from the Propane Education and Research Council.

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