Natural Gas Pipeline Security and Safety

Natural Gas Pipeline Security and Safety

How natural gas utilities and contractors can help ensure the welfare of their workers and communities, while maintaining system cost effectiveness

There is no denying that safety must be a major consideration when transporting and distributing natural gas. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has instituted a number of rules to regulate pipeline safety and management. The natural gas industry itself monitors 100% of its pipeline, either on the ground or aerially each year. Utilities, contractors, suppliers, and supply chain distribution companies like GROEBNER are committed to the safety of pipeline workers and the surrounding communities.

Natural gas distributors are committed to safety for a variety of reasons. Foremost, of course, is the continuing health and welfare of the communities they serve and the workers they employ. But safety is also directly related to the utility’s public image, worker productivity, and overall company financial performance. Due diligence in maintaining safe pipeline conditions makes certain that utilities can meet regulatory demands, keeps operations efficient, workers more effective, and helps meet financial and shareholder needs.

Distributing natural gas by pipeline is by far the safest method to move the product from your utility site to your customers. But it’s important to maintain this safety through regular monitoring, repairs, and security precautions. GROEBNER represents multiple suppliers and equipment that can help you ensure the safety of your workers, your customers, and your pipelines.


Pipeline Security

There are a number of ways that GROEBNER and the manufacturers with whom we partner can help you ensure that your natural gas pipelines are secure and safe.

Gas pipeline regulators are important pieces of safety equipment, as well as necessary items to keep gas flow controlled at the correct pressure. The regulator must be protected, from intentional or accidental resetting. One item GROEBNER offers to protect regulator integrity is the Z Regulator Stem Lock from Cumberland Products. This regulator lock is a simple design that allows you to use a variety of types of locks to protect access to the pressure adjustment screw. The Z Regulator Stem Lock can be installed in the field, making for ease of upgrade or maintenance of your pipeline system. Cumberland Products has extensive fabrication experience in the natural gas utility industry. Their staff knows your needs and GROEBNER recommends their stem locks without reservation for your security needs.

It’s clear that utilities must manage pressure regulation very carefully. Beyond regulators, there are valves and other devices designed to make it easy to set pressures correctly. And it’s vital to make sure those settings remain in place once set. Utilities also need to ensure that meters can’t be tampered with on the site. GROEBNER offers a trouble-free solution with Highfield barrel locks and keys. Highfield was founded more than 75 years ago, an industry leader in current barrel lock technology. Barrel locks have a variety of uses, as there are various configurations. They can be used to lock meter nuts in place, to keep valve handles locked in the appropriate position, and allows you to lock wing valves on meter sets. Barrel locks can be keyed to provide each utility with its own combination, making the locks unique to that utility. This ensures the safety and settings of pipelines. It also keeps meter readings reliable, safeguarding the meter from any external tampering. GROEBNER recommends Highfield barrel locks for your security needs, confident in their expertise to be part of your success story.

External pipeline security issues can be addressed easily with the previously mentioned locking mechanisms. But it is equally important that natural gas pipeline security is protected in-ground as well. When excavation around pipelines is necessary, you must be able to pinpoint where current lines are buried. It’s also essential that you be able to locate other buried assets, such as cable services, active power lines, and ferrous metal objects to avoid costly damage when digging. There are various locators available, but often require that your crew carry multiple pieces of equipment to cover all the possible in-ground assets. GROEBNER offers a single locator that will pinpoint all the varied underground assets, allowing work crews to work more effectively and with less equipment burden. The ViperMag by Copperhead Industries locates all these buried assets, with a single lightweight, but durable instrument. Your field crews will find ViperMag’s easy-to-use, affordable tool a great resource to ensure pipeline repair safety.

Another external risk to natural gas pipelines is excavation. Excavation around pipelines is an ongoing reality of the natural gas industry, as new lines are run or other assets are added to the area. When excavating around currently laid pipelines, it’s of vital importance to protect those lines from puncture or scarring. GROEBNER offers a protective solution from Rhino Marking & Protection Systems. With more than a decade of successful in-field use, their reusable Safety Wrap can protect your pipelines from scrapes, dings, tears, and punctures. Safety Wrap comes in multiple sizes and is designed to be used multiple times, allowing you to move the sleeve from worksite to worksite. Its high visibility, fluorescent orange adds an additional level of security, ensuring pipeline is visible even in low light conditions. Safety Wrap will protect workers and the public from any accidental leaks or explosions. And by maintaining the integrity of the pipelines, you can extend the life of your pipelines.

Pipeline security keeps your whole system functioning properly and safely. However, it is equally important to ensure the safety of your workers and the surrounding community as they come in contact with natural gas pipeline infrastructure. GROEBNER also offers a number of products that can help you maintain a safe working and usage environment.


Personnel Safety

As discussed above, excavation can present safety issues for natural gas pipelines themselves. But it’s also important to deal with the very real possibility of trench collapse and the potential for worksite personnel to be buried beneath the caving dirt. Conventional shoring, with heavy braces and cross beams, can be cumbersome and slow to install. And it doesn’t always work well with trenches of limited depth. GROEBNER is proud to offer a more manageable, completely safe solution. SmartShore by Pronal is an inflatable solution, certified in accordance with OSHA standards. Made of double wall, rubber-coated fabric, the flexible trench shield is hot vulcanized for durability. SmartShore can be placed either vertically or horizontally and has the flexibility to adapt to uneven surfaces. The systems generally only require about 10 minutes to set up, so your crew can be working safely in a matter of minutes. Keeping your team safe, as well as productive, Pronal’s SmartShore is the perfect trench support solution.

Utilities don’t always excavate to work on pipelines. It’s often necessary to access pipelines via a manhole. Clearly, an open hole invites accidents, whether it be from loose objects dropping in or inpiduals falling through the open access. But the weight of manhole covers makes it impractical to replace it each time you come out of the access hole. GROEBNER presents a manageable solution through Cumberland Products’ temporary manhole cover. This steel construction cover weighs only 22 pounds, significantly less weight to maneuver each time you need to cover the access hole. Its ventilated design prevents potentially dangerous gases from accumulating inside the access area. And the temporary cover is load rated to meet IBC safety standards for personnel. You can protect your personnel and other people in the area from accidental injury and the job site from potential damage with this Cumberland Products manhole cover.

Another challenge work crews face when working with in-ground natural gas pipelines is lighting. The importance of bright, consistent lighting when working in underground environments is obvious. But not just any flash or flood light will do when working in possibly hazardous pipeline areas. Lighting that is explosion proof is a must. GROEBNER represents Western Technologies’ BRICK and BRICKette lights, certified explosion proof in Class I & II, Gas / Dust. These tough lights can emit focus or dispersed lighting, depending on your crew’s workplace needs. The LED light never gets hot and requires very low power to keep it running. The BRICK and BRICKette are also approved for work in wet locations. So no matter what your worksite environment, these Western Technology lights let your crew see clearly, work safely, and never have to worry about lighting needs again.

Whether in trenches or areas accessed via manholes, air quality can be compromised in confined working spaces. And depending on where in a trench you might be, your “personal” air quality may be quite different than elsewhere in the space. That’s why GROEBNER offers SENSIT personal gas monitors that can be used by each inpidual on the work crew. SENSIT monitors can be detect multiple hazardous gases in the environment. Equipped with three types of alarms – audible, visual, and vibration – these monitors can be configured to alert your workers to gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, oxygen levels, and more. Easy to operate and configurable for your specific needs, the SENSIT monitors will ensure your work crew’s air quality safety, no matter where they are working in a trench or other underground areas.

Not all work crew safety issues have to do with the external, underground environment of the pipelines. The pipelines themselves can be the cause of accidental injury. Handling lengths of polyethylene pipe on the job site in preparation for fusion can be awkward and lead to personnel injuries, such as muscle strain or crushing of hands or feet. The less pipe needs to be handled on site, the greater the safety levels for your work crew. GROEBNER represents McElroy Manufacturing, a leader in pipeline fusion, and offer their PolyHorse pipe-handling system. This system is designed to store and stage PE pipe for installation on the work site. Pipe can be off loaded from the truck directly onto the PolyHorse, where it is stored off the ground and out of the way until needed. Since workers won’t have to handle or move the pipe until it’s ready to be fused, there is less likelihood of injury. The system is designed so a single worker can line up and fuse the pipe. The heavy lengths are supported by the racking throughout the process – not by your working crew. PolyHorse helps ensure workplace safety and increases productivity at the same time.


Strengthen Your Pipeline Security and Safety

Dedication to the safety and security of your natural gas distribution pipelines is important for your communities’ well-being and ongoing relationships. Improved safety conditions also have a positive impact on your team’s productivity and your utility’s overall financial success. GROEBNER is committed to helping you meet your goals by offering the best in industry tools and equipment, designed for securing your pipelines and worksites. Contact us today so we can show you how easy it is to strengthen safety measures and the security of your infrastructure for your customers, workers, job sites, and pipelines.