warm thoughts


Written on: March 21, 2024

By John Horner

Imagine a DOT auditor knocks at the front door of your propane operation and asks to see a copy of your DOT security plan. What’s your next move? If your answer is anything other than heading into your office to retrieve a copy of your manual, read this article. I’m going to outline the top three reasons you need a DOT security plan.

1: It’s Required by the Department of Transportation
The first and arguably most pressing reason you need a DOT security plan is that the Department of Transportation Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR 172.802) requires all propane marketers that transport HAZMAT in vehicles with a water capacity greater than 792 gallons have a written security plan. A DOT Security Plan is critical in evaluating security risks, preventing unauthorized access, and ensuring that your employees are properly trained to take action in the event of a security breach.

2: It Protects the Public
Having a security manual and regularly training your employees on its use can be the difference between life and death. After all, unauthorized operation of a propane bobtail is a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t let your company’s unsecured bobtail be the reason for someone’s loss of life if an untrained driver were to get behind the wheel in a situation involving truck theft or malicious intent.

3: It Protects Your Employees & Company
Do you want your company’s name in the news if bobtail theft and a catastrophic incident were to occur? If the answer is no, it’s time to be more diligent about security. Keep reading to learn more about what should be included in your DOT Security Plan and how frequently to train your employees on its stipulations and use.

How to Get a DOT Security Plan

In my career, I have found that the vast majority of propane marketers who don’t have a written DOT Security Plan fall into one of two categories:

1. They aren’t sure where to start
2. They don’t have the time to research and compile one

P3 safety articleFortunately, this is a road you don’t have to walk alone! There are propane safety and compliance providers out there who can provide you with a complete, customized DOT Security Manual and training guide to stay in compliance with federal requirements. Get in touch with a propane safety provider you trust and request a DOT Security Plan. They’ll work with you to develop one that fits your needs and keeps you in compliance with DOT requirements.

DOT Security Plan Training Requirements

DOT HAZMAT training is required initially within 90 days of employment and every 36 months after that. Every employee should be trained to know their responsibilities under the security plan, which include line items such as awareness training, security duties, not discussing routes with others, important background checks when hiring, whom to alert if there is an issue, and requesting identification when an unknown person enters the bobtail refilling location.

Reminder: Document the who, what, when, and where of all training. If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen!

Recurring DOT Security Plan Review

DOT Security Plans aren’t a “set it and forget it” type of manual. Written DOT security plans must be reviewed at least annually and revised and/or updated as necessary to reflect changing circumstances. If you aren’t sure what to review and update, get in touch with the expert who provided your manual in the first place. They’ll know what to look for and update year after year. Safety experts can also assess your plan to identify any areas that might be missing or incomplete and conduct required security plan training with your employees.

Time to Get Started

If “DOT Security Plan” is not a written document stored on your propane operation’s shelves, you’ll want to get your hands on one as soon as possible. It’s a required document for your company and helps keep your customers, employees, and company protected. Your DOT security plan will promote a safe work environment, help you avoid costly fines, and protect your company from risk and litigation.

About the Author: John Horner is the senior director of safety and training at P3 Propane Safety. He has more than 13 years of industry experience providing DOT and other safety and compliance training. You can reach John at john_horner@bostonenv.com or P3Propane.com.