In This Issue

Proposed Changes to Operator Qualification and Waivers in NY State

[I.D No. PSC-14-21-00003-P]

The New York Public Service Commission is considering revisions to certain sections of 16 NYCRR Part 255 as summarized below:

Waivers would become Special Permits

  • The current waiver request would become a request for a special permit.  Currently, pipeline operators are required to comply with the regulations as stated or ask for a “waiver” of the requirement. The term “waiver,” however, inaccurately describes what occurs when a company is complying with the regulations but believes it can do so in a different manner than that specifically stated in the regulations. A “special permit,” whether granted temporarily or permanently, is a more accurate description of what is being granted. Any alternative approach to a regulation as written must still “meet or exceed” the existing regulation.

Operator Qualification (OQ) requirements would change in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Add a definition for “span of control,” which describes pipeline operators’ ratio of fully operator qualified supervisors to non-qualified workers who are completing pipeline work.
  • Change the definition of “covered task” so it would also apply to pipeline construction.
  • OQ programs would have to be revised to make clear that to be “operator qualified” workers must have been evaluated for their “knowledge, skills, and abilities” (KSA’s) to complete each covered task.  Further, although written tests are not required to test workers’ repair or construction knowledge, when written tests are used, they must be offered in a secure setting that precludes opportunities to cheat. A passing grade on a written test will have to include some basic requirements; for instance, a worker cannot be deemed to have passed a written exam if the worker incorrectly answered any question about how to respond to a “abnormal operating condition” (AOC).
  • Operators must explain their “management of change” process for when they make changes to their own operator qualification protocols, such as when and how a task, process, or span of control changes.
  • Operators would have to develop a method to keep records and allow real-time checks of which workers are operator qualified and for which tasks on any worksite. It should also be apparent when those credentials expire.

The full text of the proposed rule is posted at the following State website:

For questions, contact: John Pitucci, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350, (518) 486-2655, email:

Data, views or arguments may be submitted to: Michelle Phillips, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350, (518) 474-6530, email:

Public comment will be received until 60 days after April 7, 2021 (the date of publication).