CASE STUDY

Risk-Based Inspection Scheduling
of Propane Filling Facilities

Smart Scheduling, Lowered Costs
and Enhanced Safety

Folllowing the 2008 Sunrise Propane Explosion in Toronto, the Government of Ontario convened an expert panel to review the regulatory regime for propane safety. The panel’s recommendations included a recommendation to mandate inspections of propane filling sites from once every three years to once every year.The new inspection requirements significantly increased both regulatory and financial burden on the propane sector, which resulted in a significant contraction of the the industry. This is in turn created supply challenges, in particular in rural and remote communities of the province that were reliant on propane.

In his role as the Director of Public Safety Risk Management and Chief Risk Advisor with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, the regulator responsible for enforcing Ontario’s safety regulations for propane, PRISM Founder and President Srikanth Mangalam developed a risk-based inspection schedule for propane filling facilities.

An analysis of inspection results and incident reports determined that the annual inspection requirement recommended by the expert panel had no discernible safety benefit. As a result of this analysis, three years after the annual inspection requirement was first mandated, a consultation process was initiated to engage industry, government, consumers, emergency responders and the regulator to propose amendments to the propane regulation to change the annual inspection requirement to a risk-based schedule.

Propane filling facilities in Ontario are now inspected on a risk-based schedule at intervals ranging from once every six months to once every three years. Propane filling sites are assigned a risk score based on science and evidence through a quantitative analysis of inspection outcomes and incident history. The introduction of risk-based inspections has achieved a number of critical public policy outcomes for industry, the regulator and the public including a significant reduction in burden associated with inspections for the propane industry, a more rationale and defensible approach to inspecting propane sites for the regulator, and an excellent public safety record.