Advisory Bulletin (ADB-06-01)
The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration recently issued this advisory bulletin to both gas and liquid operators. The preamble to the advisory gives a summary of several excavation-related accidents in the past few years that all involved some failure to follow established safe excavation practices. The complete advisory is available on PHMSA’s website at: http://www.phmsa.dot.gov.
To: Owners and Operators of Natural Gas and Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Systems
Subject: Notification on safe Excavation Practices and the use of Qualified Personnel to oversee all Excavations and Backfilling Operations
Advisory: Excavation damage continues to be one of the three leading causes of pipeline damage. PHSMA has seen an increase in pipeline operators damaging their own pipeline facilities. To protect excavators and private citizens from injury and to guard the integrity of buried pipelines and other underground facilities, PHSMA reminds operators to ensure all procedures and processes to preform excavation and backfilling are followed. Only qualified personnel must oversee all marking, trenching, and backfilling operations.
Furthermore, PHMSA reminds pipeline operators that although excavation is not explicitly addressed in 49 CFR parts 192 and 195, excavation is considered a covered task under the pipeline operator qualifications regulations (49 CFR 192.801-809 and 195.501-509). These regulations require that pipeline operators and contractors be qualified to preform pipeline excavation activities. A qualified individual is one who has been evaluated and can preform assigned covered tasks and can recognize and react appropriately to abnormal conditions.
In particular, PHSMA recommends pipeline operators review the adequacy of covered tasks involving line locating, one-call notifications, and inspection of excavation of excavation activities. Operators should also review the adequacy of required training, evaluation and qualification methods for each of these covered tasks to ensure that each employee and contractor is qualified to preform that task.