Want to know more about OQ? Here are a few key things that you should know.
- The purpose of OQ is to reduce the likelihood and severity of pipeline accidents caused by human error. OQ is primarily concerned with making sure that individuals who perform certain operations and maintenance (O&M) tasks on regulated pipeline systems are qualified to perform those tasks.
- Personnel affected by OQ include pipeline employees, contractors, subcontractors, members of the public, emergency responders, or anyone else who performs tasks covered by the rule. All such tasks are known as “Covered Tasks.” The U.S. regulations define “qualified” as being able to (a) perform the routine aspects of a Covered Task, and (b) recognize and respond to Abnormal Operating Conditions (AOCs) that could reasonably be expected to occur while the Covered Task is being done.
- Covered Tasks are O&M tasks performed on a pipeline facility as a requirement of U.S. pipeline safety regulations that could adversely affect the operation or integrity of the pipeline. A typical liquids or gas pipeline company in the U.S. will have anywhere from 50-100 Covered Tasks. Examples of Covered Tasks include inspecting or servicing a pipeline valve, inspecting a right-of-way, marking a buried pipeline prior to excavation, installing a pipeline sleeve, calibrating a pressure transmitter, starting up or shutting down a pipeline, and many more.
- The rule allows different evaluation methods for verifying qualifications, including examinations, on-job performance assessments, simulations, and “Work Performance History Review”, which was designed for companies who had extensive and detailed records that could be used to establish employee qualifications.
- OQ focuses on evaluation to verify qualification; participation in a training course, by itself, is not sufficient to establish qualification. There must be documented evidence that the individual can correctly perform the task and recognize and respond to Abnormal Operating Conditions.
- OQ is primarily concerned with protection of people, property, and the environment from pipeline accidents. It concerns itself only with tasks that can have an immediate or long-term adverse affect on a pipeline system. It does not include tasks such as record keeping, filing, laboratory work, or any other tasks that are not performed directly on a pipeline.
- OQ is currently the closest thing to a standard regarding the qualification and training of pipeline personnel. As of 2005, it is expected that a new standard for OQ will become available through the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
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