Office of Conservation

"New Rule" Operator Qualification

In October, 1999, the Federal Department of Transportation issued a final rule addressing Operator Qualification for all individuals performing covered tasks essential to the safe operation of pipelines. This rule has been on the books and under review since the early 1980s. It resurfaced around 1990 but was under such scrutiny by the industry that the Federal government initiated a "regulatory negotiating" team comprised of both industry and regulatory bodies to develop the final product that was adopted.

Under Part 192, the rule will add an entire new subpart comprised of the following sections for natural and other gas operators:

Subpart N - Operator Qualification

192.801 - Scope

(a) This subpart prescribes the minimum requirements for operator qualification of individuals performing covered tasks on a pipeline facility.
(b) For the purpose of this subpart, a covered task is an activity, identified by the operator, that:

(1) Is performed on a pipeline facility;
(2) Is an operations or maintenance task;
(3) Is performed as a requirement of this part; and
(4) Affects the operation or integrity of the pipeline.

192.803 - Definitions

Abnormal operating condition means a condition identified by the operator that may indicate a malfunction of a component or deviation from normal operations that may:

(a) Indicate a condition exceeding design limits; or
(b) Result in a hazard(s) to persons, property, or the environment. Evaluation means a process, established and documented by the operator, to determine an individual's ability to perform a covered task by any of the following:
(a) Written examination;
(b) Oral examination;
(c) Work performance history review;
(d) Observation during:
(e) Performance on the job,
(f) On the job training, or
(g) Simulations; or
(h) Other forms of assessment.
Qualified means that an individual has been evaluated and can:
(a) Perform assigned covered tasks; and
(b) Recognize and react to abnormal operating conditions.

192.805 - Qualification program

Each operator shall have and follow a written qualification program. The program shall include provisions to:

(a) Identify covered tasks;
(b) Ensure through evaluation that individuals performing covered tasks are qualified;
(c) Allow individuals that are not qualified pursuant to this subpart to perform a covered task if directed and observed by an individual that is qualified;
(d) Evaluate an individual if the operator has reason to believe that the individual's performance of a covered task contributed to an incident as defined in Part 191;
(e) Evaluate an individual if the operator has reason to believe that the individual is no longer qualified to perform a covered task;
(f) Communicate changes that affect covered tasks to individuals performing those covered tasks; and
(g) Identify those covered tasks and the intervals at which evaluation of the individual's qualifications is needed.

192.807 - Recordkeeping

Each operator shall maintain records that demonstrate compliance with this subpart.

(a) Qualification records shall include:

(1) Identification of qualified individual(s);
(2) Identification of the covered tasks the individual is qualified to perform;
(3) Date(s) of current qualification; and
(4) Qualification method(s).

(b) Records supporting an individual's current qualification shall be maintained while the individual is performing the covered task. Records of prior qualification and records of individuals no longer performing covered tasks shall be retained for a period of five years.

192.809 - General

(a) Operators must have a written qualification program by April 27, 2001.
(b) Operators must complete the qualification of individuals performing covered tasks by October 28, 2002.
(c) Work performance history review may be used as a sole evaluation method for individuals who were performing a covered task prior to August 27, 1999.
(d) After October 28, 2002, work performance history may not be used as a sole evaluation method.

The language in the rule is basically the same for Part 195, Hazardous Liquids regulations. An entire new subpart is added, Subpart G, for Part 195.

This rule is the most critical ruling that has come down from the Federal government in the last decade. The Pipeline Safety section is presently going through the Administrative Procedures to adopt this into our State regulations. The section numbers will change to coincide with the Louisiana Administrative Code number system, however the language will be the same.