AGA Issues Safety Guidance on Workforce Knowledge, Skills and Communications

AGA Issues Safety Guidance on Workforce Knowledge, Skills and Communications

Article by the American Gas Association

Washington, DC – The American Gas Association (AGA) today published “Skills and Experience for Effectively Designing Natural Gas Systems” which contains guidance for members on the skills and knowledge necessary to safely perform engineering work functions on a natural gas system and effectively communicate about changes necessary to maintain and enhance the system over time.

“Safety is the top priority for America’s natural gas utilities and we do not wait for legislative or regulatory mandates to take action to enhance the safety of the 2.5 million miles of pipelines that deliver essential energy throughout the country,” said AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert. “Our industry employs a highly-skilled workforce that is committed to protecting our customers and the communities that we serve. This guidance identifies leading practices for the knowledge and experience necessary to design pipeline systems.”

  • This report is part of an ongoing effort to review the tragic incident that took place in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts in September and identify leading practices to avoid such incidents in the future.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the Merrimack Valley incident made recommendations about the professional qualifications for individuals designing natural gas pipelines.
  • The report details a tiered approach to developing a foundational understanding of natural gas systems, improving knowledge about operator-specific processes and procedures, and building technical knowledge.
  • One key for continuous improvement is implementing management of change processes – a leading practice for evaluating and mitigating the risk of significant changes to a pipeline system.
  • The report also highlights the importance of pipeline safety management systems – a holistic approach to enhancing pipeline safety by promoting safety awareness, vigilance and cooperation company-wide.
  • Almost immediately after the incident, AGA also started compiling information from members on over-pressurization, which was identified by NTSB as the cause.
  • AGA took those responses – about equipment, procedures, training, and oversight – organized them, vetted them and identified leading practices.
  • “Leading Practices to Reduce the Possibility of a Natural Gas Over-Pressurization Event” was released on November 26, 2018.

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 73 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 69 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs. 

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