Industry News – Spring 2019

Massachusetts Adopting Pipeline Safety Management System

DailyEnergyInsider – In order to ensure the safety of the natural gas distribution system in the state of Massachusetts, the Northeast Gas Association (NGA) has adopted a Pipeline Safety Management System. The system is a recommended “Best Practice” by the American Petroleum Institute, first adopted in 2010. It is believed that this is the first time an entire state has committed to the practice.

The state was affected by gas explosions at 39 homes on September 13, making national news. Following the explosions, the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) requested that all natural gas companies adopt the recommended safety management system.

“Our administration is pleased that the Northeast Gas Association has complied with DPU’s request to adopt the nation’s first statewide Pipeline Safety Management System to ensure the safety of our communities,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in November. “We are proud to work with the Northeast Gas Association and its members to ensure that a culture of safety is in place at every level of utility business operations.”

The Pipeline Safety Management System includes safety culture training of all employees and leadership, analysis and management of pipeline safety risks, and implementation of better operational controls of the pipeline system and use of contractors.

These standards exceed federal requirements for pipeline safety set by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.



CGA Best Practices Now Included in OSHA Instruction

Following a sustained effort by our Education Committee’s Insurance Stakeholder Group, CGA is proud to announce that the CGA Best Practices are included in the new directive for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OHSA) Instruction on the National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

Effective Oct. 1, 2018, the directive issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA describes policies and procedures for continued implementation of a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to identify and to reduce hazards which could cause injuries or fatalities during trenching and excavating.

The directive includes CGA’s Best Practices Guide as an OSHA compliance resource for the industry – an important acknowledgement of the preeminence of this consensus-based set of guidelines for preventing damage to communities and people.

“OSHA’s new NEP directive on trenching and excavation requires area offices to reach out to excavation employers, equipment rental organizations and plumbing companies, among other stakeholders, to assist them with complying with safety regulations – and the Common Ground Alliance Best Practices are specifically included as a resource for safe excavation,” said CGA President and CEO Sarah K. Magruder Lyle. “I would like to thank the dedicated members who continually work to make our Best Practices Guide the most comprehensive, up-to-date and consensus-based set of guidelines for safe excavation, as well as those who worked with our federal partners to make it a part of OSHA’s outreach.”

To read OSHA’s complete directive on the NEP on Trenching and Excavation, visit www.osha.gov and search for NEP CPL-02-00-161. To access CGA’s Best Practices Guide 16. 0, visit www.CommonGroundAlliance.com.


CALIFORNIA COMPANY CITED FOR SAFETY VIOLATIONS

OSHA has cited California-based Empire Equipment Services for workplace safety violations after a trench collapsed, killing a worker. The company faces a $66,000 citation for the incident.

Back in May of 2018, two Empire Equipment Services were installing sewer pipes at a residential construction site when a 30-foot-wide section of the trench’s sidewall collapsed. One worker was able to escape but the other died after becoming trapped. OSHA said the company failed to carry out proper visual and manual tests to classify the soil and correctly slope the excavation, both required to provide safe working conditions. The investigation also determined that the company failed to ensure the site was inspected by someone who was deemed “competent.”

Part of the $66,000 penalty was due to the fact that Empire Equipment Services was classified as a “repeat offender.” In 2017, the company had to pay a $27,640 fine for exposing its workers to serious hazards while working in a trench deeper than five feet without properly sloping or installing adequate protective systems.


SIGN OF THE TIMES

A Manhattan, New York construction company recently rolled out new, gender-neutral “Men and Women at Work’ signs, believed to be the first of their kind in the city. Plaza Construction began replacing all of their “Men at Work” signs at the entrances to their work sites in September as part of a new “female-friendly” initiative that encourages women to enter the construction industry by creating a better work environment.

According to one apprentice electrician who works with Plaza, “the slogan helps combat the stigma faced by female construction workers. It makes people realize there are women doing the job and getting into the field.”

The new signs are now posted at construction sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Resorts World Casino NY in Queens, New Jersey, Washington DC, Miami and Tampa.

When it comes to equal pay, the construction industry is actually more progressive than most industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While women across the board make only 80% of what their male counterparts make, in construction, they earn 91.3% of the men. Women currently account for 9% of the construction workforce nationally. Plaza Construction says women account for 25% of their workforce.


AGA Releases NEW GUIDE

DailyEnergyInsider – The American Gas Association (AGA) released a guide in November for natural gas utilities to help avoid over-pressurization in a natural gas system.

“Soon after the natural gas incident in Massachusetts, we had information about the role of over-pressurization, which allowed us to work to identify practices and procedures that can help avoid similar devastating incidents in the future,” David McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA, said.

The guide includes common over-pressure protection designs and equipment, and operating procedures and practices, including system monitoring, records and damage prevention. It also considers human factors, including management of change, operator qualifications and field oversight, and management of the risk of an over-pressurization event. The guide also provides tips on working with stakeholders to upgrade utilization pressure systems.

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