Expert View

The Training Bee

15 November 2013

Of all the bees a-buzzing in my bonnet, Staff Training must be the Queen. Always has been throughout my career whether it be fashion, finance, fuel or fm96.2, my local commercial radio station where I worked for a time.  Sadly it is often neglected and in our business, setting aside for one moment, customer satisfaction, the magnitude of the safety issues we have to address each and every day take the need for thorough staff training to another level. Stepping off my soap box for a moment, however, I am inviting you to step into my fantasy world……..one where we address the biggest liability on any forecourt………one where we train the customers as well as the staff! In my wildest flights of fantasy, I dream that the oil companies will get together and pay for a series of informative advertisements on T.V. but we all know that is never going to happen. But a girl can dream…….. But imagine if we were able to stop all our customers before they got anywhere near our fuel and took them on a little guided tour of the danger zone they were about to enter!

‘Excuse me – just a moment of your time to explain some items of safety awareness. It’s no different to being on an aircraft really though it doesn’t involve Mae Wests or breathing apparatus.

Do you know whether your vehicle needs petrol or diesel? It does help because if you put the wrong fuel in it is costly and time consuming amongst other things. If you are not sure, it generally tells you when you open the fill point on your car. By the way, you do know where your fill point is don’t you? We have had unfortunate incidents where (admittedly usually elderly) customers have attempted to fill the boot of their car – oh yes – we see it all

You are planning to put the fuel in your car yourself aren’t you? You aren’t thinking of letting one of the children do it? We are governed by so many laws operating this place, you would not believe and the penalties for breaching them are severe so if you did try and let one of the children fill up for you we wouldn’t authorise the pump. Yes I can see that your fourteen year old son is a mature lad for his age but he still wouldn’t have a pump authorised.

Let me draw your attention to those notices on the pillars there – we call them canopy stantions but that’s not that important. What is important is what those notices have to say. No eating whilst filling up. No use of mobile phones. No smoking. No unauthorised containers to be used for fuel. Those are not designed to irritate you; they are probably life savers in their own way. Once you get beneath that canopy and pull up at one of our pumps, you are entering a danger zone because fuel produces very volatile vapour which accumulates underneath it. If a spark ignited that vapour you would be in the middle of a fire ball.

No eating because you would be ingesting poisonous fuel vapours.

No smoking because of the risk of igniting the vapour.

No mobile phones because surprising though it may seem, there is a risk of an electronic spark igniting the vapour.

In addition, we want you to have your full attention on what you are doing because if you are distracted and you spill the fuel, it is expensive, dangerous and will take us considerable time to clean it up and make the place safe again and if you spill a lot of the stuff, we get embroiled in reporting it to authorities and filling in reams of paperwork. So we like our customers to keep their mind on what they are doing.

You might notice that if any of our staff or contractors are on the forecourt, they wear high viz jackets to make them easily seen. We don’t expect our customers to wear these but we do ask them to be very aware as they walk about and observe where traffic is moving about – people don’t always watch where they are walking or driving when they are on a fuels forecourt – we don’t know why but we see signs of it all the time.

I hope you have found our little chat useful – here is a little summary for future reference. Please also note that should you be unfortunate enough to suffer an engine fire, the very last place you should think of pushing your car to is a fuels forecourt.

Oh – you have a question – by all means…..’What do we do to ensure your safety?’ Good question.

We train our staff so they are aware of their legal obligations and dangers of fuel.

We have fire extinguishers on the forecourt which are regularly serviced.

We have sand available to mop up spillages.

We ensure that our staff have full view of what is going on out here at all times.

All our electrical equipment is regularly serviced.

We carry out regular checks each day to ensure everything is in safe working order.

I am delighted to tell you that you have passed our customer safety awareness programme! Here is your certificate! Welcome to our world.’

Ha! And here endeth the fantasy. Nice whilst it lasted though wasn’t it?

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