INGAA, APCA, OSHA Ramp Up Pipeline Construction Safety Measures

By Kate Permenter, Contributing Editor | May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

The INGAA Foundation Inc. has released Construction Safety Consensus Guidelines designed to cover common natural gas construction operations such as basic personal protection equipment (PPE), pressure testing, overhead utilities safety and trenching and excavation.

A key guideline is hazard assessment, which refers to assessing hazardous situations for each new task, at the beginning of each new shift, or as needed. Responsibilities for management and employees are also highlighted. Management would be responsible for verifying that employees are trained and know how to utilize PPE, and to stop and correct any non-compliant activities. Employees are responsible for obeying safety procedures, completing applicable training, implementing PPE standards, and reporting any PPE hazards.

Basic PPE is outlined in the document, which includes head protection, eye protection, safety footwear, hand protection and appropriate work clothing. Because PPE is activity-based, there are times when employees are advised to wear chemical and splash protection, drowning protection, fire resistant clothing, hearing protection, respiratory protection and welding protection. These circumstances are covered under situational or specialized PPE in the guidelines.

These safety rules are supported by the America Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA) and the INGAA Foundation membership, and aim to strengthen applicable regulatory standards and employ consistency across the industry.

APCA is an industry leader in promoting safety and supporting regulatory agencies that supervise construction. APCA made an alliance in 2007 with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to protect pipeline construction employees through a safe workplace. The two organizations renewed their alliance in February 2009 and again in January 2012.

“This agreement will provide members of the APCA, including small businesses, with information, guidance and access to training resources that will help them protect employees’ health and safety,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin Foulke Jr. “The Alliance will particularly focus on reducing and preventing exposure to hazards from bulldozer, excavator, pipelayer and other heavy equipment operation, as well as trenching, excavation and hydrostatic testing hazards.”

Implementation
An implementation team was created with representatives from both organizations who form a plan of action, working procedures and delegate roles and responsibilities among its members. The group meets at least three times a year to track the Alliance’s progress.