What is Operator Qualification?
The SIF developed its OQ program, with support from PHMSA, to help gas operators comply with federal operator qualification regulation and to assure safe transportation of natural gas and propane. The Office of Pipeline Safety developed OQ regulations to verify through written and performance testing that an operator has the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform safety-sensitive tasks and also to recognize and react to abnormal operating conditions that may occur while performing a task.
In addition to offering OQ for operators, the SIF also offers training workshops focused on specific aspects of tasks that enrich an operator’s knowledge without necessarily being a qualifying course. Every operator who takes an OQ workshop should be documenting their qualification task and when they were qualified. The SIF uses American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31Q operator qualification standards for all OQ workshops.
On December 7, 2009 the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a pipeline safety Advisory Bulletin informing operators about the standardized notification process for operator qualification (OQ) plan transmittal from the operator to PHMSA. This advisory is consistent with how APGA Security and Integrity Foundation (SIF) has always used observation as an evaluation tool.