We’d like to share the initial results from one Operator Qualification program audit that recently made the news. Since the pipeline company has not had a chance to respond to the alleged deficiencies, we’ve omitted their name from the following text. But the citations are instructive, and should provide food for thought for other pipeline operators who may be facing OQ audits:
In its March 11 notice to the company, the agency (OPS) levels seven specific allegations that the company failed to abide by the new training and qualification standards, two of which involve irregularities in how the company tests employee qualifications for specific tasks.
One claims that exams given to check whether workers are qualified to investigate gas leaks “used the exam key, with the correct answers underlined and bolded, not the unmarked exam provided in the training module as a sample.”
Another states, “There were instances found where a qualification test was completed by an individual other than the one being qualified.”
The agency’s notice also says a field inspection turned up a pipeline worker doing welding work for which he was not properly qualified and alleges a general deficiency in the company’s employees’ training and qualification to recognize and address “abnormal operating conditions.”
Other alleged violations include numerous instances of missing or incorrect records; missing signatures or other pertinent information on qualification tests; and instances of workers apparently having completed skills evaluation for various tasks without official confirmation.