In this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, Russel Treat is joined by Colin Frazier, Senior Manager of System Programs at API and Laurie Knape, Program Manager for Pipeline Safety Management Systems Assessment Program (PSMS) at API, to discuss pipeline SMS and the pipeline assessment process.
During the conversation, they cover topics including the maturity journey of pipeline SMS, the importance of benchmarking, and the focus on safety culture. Listen to the episode now to learn more about the progress and challenges in implementing safety management systems in the pipeline industry, the significance of stakeholder engagement, and the resources available on pipelinesms.org for operators to enhance their safety programs.
Pipeline SMS Assessment & Benchmarking Process Show Notes, Links and Insider Terms
- Colin Frazier is the Senior Manager of System Programs at API. Connect with Colin on LinkedIn.
- Laurie Knape is the Program Manager for Pipeline SMS at API. Connect with Laurie on LinkedIn.
- API (American Petroleum Institute): Since its formation in 1919 as a standards-setting organization, API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance industry operations. Today, it is the global leader in convening subject matter experts to establish, maintain, and distribute consensus standards for the oil and natural gas industry.
- API Recommended Practice 1173established the framework for operators to implement Pipeline Safety Management Systems (SMS). A significant part of this recommended practice is a training and competency aspect.
- PipelineSMS.org is a useful resource with various safety tools that was developed by pipeline operators to help other operators enhance safety in their operation. Read the website resources or email firstname.lastname@example.org with inquiries.
- The Plan Do Check Act Cycle (Deming Method) is embedded in Pipeline SMS as a continuous quality improvement model consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement and learning.
- NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is a U.S. government agency responsible for the safe transportation through Aviation, Highway, Marine, Railroad, and Pipeline. The entity investigates incidents and accidents involving transportation and also makes recommendations for safety improvements.
- PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) ensures the safe transportation of energy and hazardous materials.
- The CRM Rule (Control Room Management Rule as defined by 49 CFR Parts 192 and 195) introduced by PHMSA provides regulations and guidelines for control room managers to safely operate a pipeline. PHMSA’s pipeline safety regulations prescribe safety requirements for controllers, control rooms, and SCADA systems used to remotely monitor and control pipeline operations.
- KPI (key performance indicator) is a measurable value that is intended to show how well a business is adhering to its business model and strategies.
- Check out the newly published White Paper for the Pipeline SMS Contractor’s Guide here.
- OQ (The Operator Qualification Rule) refers to the 49 CFR Parts 192 and 195 requirements for pipeline operators to develop a qualification program to evaluate an individual’s ability to react to abnormal operating conditions (AOCs) that may occur while performing tasks.
- API RP 1185 aims to use the Pipeline SMS framework to build on stakeholder engagement to support more community involvement and dialogue.
Pipeline SMS Assessment & Benchmarking Process Full Episode Transcript
Russel Treat: Welcome to the “Pipeliners Podcast”, episode 315, sponsored by EnerSys Corporation, providers of POEMS, the Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System, compliance and operations software for the pipeline control center to address control room management, SCADA, and audit readiness. Find out more about POEMS at EnerSysCorp.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. Now, your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time. To show the appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode.
This week, our winner is Colin Conrad with Crowley Fuel. Congratulations, Colin, your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around until the end of the episode. This week, we speak with Colin Frazier and Laurie Knape with API about Pipeline SMS and the pipeline assessment process.
Colin and Laurie, welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.
Colin Frazier: Hi, Russel. Great to be here.
Laurie Knape: Good morning.
Russel: As I often do, I’d like to ask you guys to introduce yourself. I’m going to ask Colin first because he’s done this before. For Laurie, she’s first time on the podcast, so we’ll let Colin go first to be an example. A good example, by the way, Colin.
Collin: I’ll do my best, Russel. Hi, everyone. Colin Frazier. I’m the Senior Manager of System Programs at API. My job responsibilities include all of API’s assessment programs that are most commonly based on management systems, as well as new program development for new programs to assist industry in implementing health, safety, and environmental management systems.
Russel: Laurie, same question.
Laurie: Good morning, everyone. I’m Laurie Knape. I am the Program Manager for Pipeline SMS. I work for Colin, and we support industry. I belong to several industry organizations so that we can collaborate with our peers and develop the best tools back to the industry.
Russel: Awesome. Probably the best place to start is just talk a little bit…at this point, most pipeline operators know what Pipeline SMS, but maybe talk a little bit about where we are on the maturity journey and maybe a little bit about what PHMSA is doing, particularly, with their request for information from the utilities.
Colin: Perfect. Russel, I agree, that’s a great place to start. As many of your listeners, I’m sure, are aware, RP 1173 was published first in 2015.
For those, I personally have some experience in the upstream sector where they have fairly mature management systems that have been in place for a long time. It comes as no surprise to all of the professionals that management systems take a long time to implement effectively.
2015 was the start of that journey for a lot of people. That came out as a result of an NTSB recommendation to API to develop that standard.
The key thing that API does in the space is act as a convener to bring together all the different pipeline trades. We comprise an implementation team focused specifically on helping industry implement RP 1173.
We meet several times a year, one off calls, to discuss the current state of play, and how we can better support that implementation. Where is the industry having problems? Where are we seeing the need for more support from our group of professionals?
Laurie: As Colin mentioned, with the maturity status where 1173 is just getting out of its infancy stage because it is such a new RP, we’re excited with this year going forward because we’re getting into that three year cycle.
By having repeat assessments being done, it will help us not only that initial phase of where people were in their maturity journey, but how they have done. Hopefully, we’re going to see great improvement, but it’s as valuable to see if they’re sliding as well and why. What are we not giving back to the industry to make sure that they are progressing and developing?
Colin: Russel, to your point, specifically, about the PHMSA request for information that was out a few months ago, it’s very promising that PHMSA is starting to wrap their arms around what implementation looks like, especially, from the distribution operators.
I say very encouraging because we were actually able, as API and the Pipeline SMS Industry Team, were able to submit comments to really encourage PHMSA to take some of the existing questions that we were already asking as a part of our implementation surveys to help inform their efforts, just because a lot of the companies already had that information.
It made, really, the lift to submit information to them that much easier. If we’re all asking the same questions and talking and speaking the same language, it’s really going to help drive implementation even more because we’re not going to be interpreting things that some people might be saying in a different way.
Russel: That’s an excellent point. It was very interesting to me, in the Fall Committee Meetings back in October – it’s mid December, I guess, as we’re recording this – about 10 weeks ago, the Pipeline SMS workshop at the AGA Fall Committee Meetings was packed.
It was spilling out into the hallway. There were so many people there. Very different place than where we were even a couple years ago.
This is very anecdotal, but it appears to me that, from a level of maturity standpoint, a lot of people are in the journey but very new in the journey. What’s interesting to me about that is you mentioned that the standard came out in 2015.
We’re eight years in with the standard. We’re just starting to get some people that are starting to do their second cultural survey. You think eight years is a long time. To your point, in this domain, eight years is not a long time.
Colin: No, eight years is not a long time. Russel, an anecdote that I would throw out there too is we’ve done assessments for some of the largest operators that have had management systems for decades. They’re still not scoring top marks across all of our assessments.
It’s a continuous journey. That’s something that we continually need to stress, both to regulators and to those just starting the journey. What we’ve found is both think that this is something that happens in a three to five year cycle. That is absolutely not the case.
Colin: To get a mature system in place, you’ve got to go through that Plan Do Check Act cycle four, five, six times to really start understanding the direction you’re moving and how your actions are influencing that direction.
Russel: I talk a lot, when we talk about these safety management systems, talk about the airline industry because they’re way ahead of us. They’re 30 plus years in. They actually have a whole different problem. They’ve been doing it so well for so long. They’re actually losing control of the systems.
You start operating an assumption about your maturity level versus really assessing where you’re at. That’s happening in the airline industry. They’re correcting it. It’s part of the cycle.
Colin: That is very interesting, Russel. That speaks to a little bit about benchmarking and KPIs as well. As you get very mature in these systems, I do think there’s likely a problem with scope creep and what is the system really supposed to be doing and what are KPIs really driving us to do. That’s a really good point and something we’ve seen in some of our assessments as well.
Russel: Let’s talk a little bit about just where we are in the benchmarking journey. I know there’s some information in 1173 that provides some guidance. Can you guys talk a little bit about where we are with benchmarking? Where are we in that evolution? What’s going on currently around that conversation?
Laurie: We’re in a really good place with the benchmarking right now. We’ve been able to produce annual reports of all of the assessments to date that we’ve done and to be able to show those trends as to where things are lacking and where things are going really, really well. As we continue to do more, obviously we’ll be able to offer better and more feedback.
Like I mentioned, now we’re doing the repeat of the three year assessment. At the end of this year, it’s going to be really exciting to see where all of that ends up. It’s no longer just initial data. Now we’re looking to see how effective we really are, not only to the industry, but how effective is this internally, within the operators and contractors, as well.
Colin: Russel, to Laurie’s point, we started this Pipeline SMS Assessment program in 2020 at the request of the industry team to have an out of the box solution to grapple with the triennial audit requirements that are found in section 10 of the standard.
Because we started in 2020, now being the end of 2023, we’re actually seeing operators come back to us for repeated assessments. In addition to being able to trend the implementation status year over year for the industry through our benchmarking efforts, we’re also able to help operators trend their implementation efforts, triennial cycle over triennial cycle.
We’re actually going to be producing reports for our repeat assessments that show directly comparing their current maturity to their previous maturity so that they can help gauge how effective their corrective action plans are or at closing some of those gaps.
Russel: Laurie, coming back to you, you mentioned that you know, based on assessments that have been done so far, where the industry’s doing well and where the industry’s needs to improve. Can you tell us a little bit about what that looks like? Where are we doing well and where, what is being shown as the areas we need to focus on?
Laurie: Sure, but I wanted to add one more comment in coordination with what Colin had said earlier, is that we’ve been offering these benchmarking reports since we started collecting the data, obviously.
But everybody gets a benchmarking report every year so that they can see everybody that’s participated in the assessment, so they can see where they are against industry in general. The exciting part, like I had mentioned earlier about this one coming up, is that this is going to be their repeat.
It’s going to show them not only where they stack up against their peers, but also positives or deficits in their own assessment from three years ago. We encourage everybody to do annual assessments so that they get a good feel of where they are, but this will be the outside look.
As far as strengths and weaknesses, obviously we have a lot of strength in leadership. We have a lot of strength in stakeholder engagement. Not quite as much strength when we get into the field and the understanding of what’s going on from headquarters to the field. That’s common not only to pipeline but to any industry actually.
Russel: No, that’s the hardest part to get right. In fact, that was very thematic in several of the committee meetings I attended back in October, where they were talking about what are the KPIs that we need to be monitoring and how do we go about monitoring those KPIs?
Because that’s not an easy thing to do, particularly when you’re looking at crew work. It’s one thing if you’re looking at an individual doing an individual task. It’s quite different if you’re looking at a crew because now you have all kinds of other things that you need to be thinking about.
Well, is the leader on the crew qualified? Is everybody on the crew qualified? Do we have the right training in place? Then you got to look at that for every person. The level of complexity gets much higher at that level and simplifying that gets tough.
The whole thing about key performance indicators is the key part. What are the two, or three, or four that you need to be looking at? By focusing on those, you move the needle. It’s not trivial.
Colin: Russel, it is interesting too because I do think the KPI approach in 1173 is a little different than maybe what a lot of operators are used to in that, specifically, it’s not these KPIs for your safety system that are two or three. These two for each of the 10 elements of RP 1173, is what the standard requires because it’s really supposed to all be working together.
You can’t get down to the level of granularity that you need to get to know if your programs are effective if you’re only tracking two to three things across your entire system. To Laurie’s point…
Russel: Yeah, but I was making a different point. What I’m talking about is when you look at the crew work itself and the KPIs you’re tracking in the crew work.
Colin: Oh, absolutely.
Russel: You don’t want to be tracking 15 KPIs on the crew work because nobody will give you the data you need. You need to track two or three.
But those two or three have to be aligned and make sense in the context of the entire program.
Colin: I would argue to add to that, Russel, that they also should be more focused on operational work and an operational lingo than ivory tower safety corporate lingo.
Because you really have to start connecting the work that crews are doing to SMS, and doing that through KPIs so that the language starts permuting is a really good approach that I would encourage people to start doing.
Russel: That exactly is the conversation that was being had, is, what is that? We’re very much in the early stages of getting that defined as an industry. There’s a lot of interest too. How do we do this all together?
Everybody’s field procedures, their practices, how they put together crews, how responsibility lives in those crews. Every operator’s different but the outcomes we’re trying to get to are the same.
Colin: Exactly, Russel.
Russel: It’s challenging.
Colin: Then I would argue that the other layer of that from a complexity standpoint is 90 percent of the work that’s happening in the field is actually being done by contractors. Not the operators.
How do we start having that conversation and making everyone start speaking that same language so that it’s one conversation as opposed to these requirements for this operator that these other requirements for this operator? Which is one of the main reasons why tackling contractors has been one of our key pushes this year as part of the work that we’ve been doing.
For those that aren’t aware, this would be a good point to say that we did publish a Pipeline SMS Contractor’s Guide, which is not a standard.
It’s just an API white paper that’s out there for guidance purposes, but that’s for free on pipelinesms.org, as well as an implementation tool for contractors that will allow a contractor to very easily go through the 56 shall statements that industry, both from the operator and the contractor side have aligned against as being the ones that are critical for alignment in industry.
We really are trying to take a look at where the risk is in industry and where really the rubber meets the road from an SMS implementation perspective.
Russel: The other thing too about contractors generally in this conversation, we’re talking about dudes in the ditch kind of contractors. We’re not talking about all the other kinds of contractors that are out there. We got to get all that roped in at some point too, right?
Russel: It’s a big deal. I want to come back and talk more about the benchmarking itself.
When we were talking about this episode and getting prepped, we were talking about the kinds of statistics, and some basics around that, and the idea of qualitative KPIs versus performance KPIs. Can you unpack that conversation and talk about how that goes to what y’all are doing in the pipeline assessment domain?
Colin: Yeah. Laurie can speak to this more. To begin the conversation, I will say that we think about quantitative and qualitative as part of our assessment process and the benchmarking.
For the listeners who are probably familiar with the pipeline SMS maturity model, we have split conformance and effectiveness into two separate scores in our assessment program. The conformance side is more about the programs in place.
Russel: For the listeners, if you would, because when we start talking about this, these words have very specific meanings. Talk about what is conformance in this context.
Colin: Yes, so sorry. Perfect question, Russel. When we talk about conformance, that is, are you doing the 234 shalls and shoulds that the Recommended Practice 1173 calls for? It is strictly more of a quantitative, “Yes or no, are you doing this? Is it implemented? Is your organization doing those things?”
Whereas, the qualitative side is more of the effectiveness side, which is, now that these programs are in place, how effective are they at driving improvements in safety? In your safety metrics, in your safety culture, and other KPIs that an operator should be tracking as part of this journey.
Laurie: Probably, a really easy way to understand that a little better is to think of normalization of work.
Work is imagined, work is performed. When we’re looking at the conformance, it’s the work that is imagined. “This is what our document says. This is what our procedures are. This is how we imagine that the work is going to go.” Are you conforming to the RP? Are your documents supporting your operations?
For me, that’s a key point, because we expect and we assume that you are using your documents as your training document. If your document doesn’t match, if it’s not paper perfect, part perfect, work perfect, then you’re not training your people to the right thing. It’s important that your document is not just cut and paste out of CFR 192 or something like that. It’s really important that your document actually reflects your scope of work.
Then, of course, on the effectiveness side, it’s exactly that. How good are you doing? Are you actually doing what you say? In a real easy analogy is like with a forklift. You can be trained, drive a forklift, and you may have the skill to get on it and drive, but how competent are you? How effective are you? Are you constantly dropping a load? Are you constantly running into a building?
It’s different stages, and that’s what we’re looking for with our scoring, is do you have all of that documentation right, complete, and properly reflecting your scope of work? Then is it actually being communicated and followed in the field?
That’s the tricky part, especially when you’re coming to contractors, because that’s all part of your statement of work, your interface document, your bridging agreement, whoever’s operating procedures are going to be using.
If you’re using yours, then you have to make sure that they are trained for them. If you’re using theirs, you have to make sure that theirs are in alignment with yours. It’s a multi step thing.
Russel: The way that I think about this, conformance is, are you doing what you said you’re doing? Performance is, are you creating the result you’re looking for? Both of those are critical.
To me, it’s a big leap to make. The closer you get to where the work is done, the harder that leap is to make because the challenge is those field procedures have to reflect the reality of the work.
Generally, filled procedures are written by an engineer or by a manager or somebody who’s putting it together, but doesn’t have the day by day experience of what it actually looks like to do that work. Those procedures need to be matured.
As you’re maturing those procedures at the work level, you actually have to feed that back up the chain to make sure it’s normalized with your policy and everything else. That process just takes time. It just takes time.
Colin: It does, Russel. I would say that is another theme that we’re seeing as part of assessments. In RP 1173 is a requirement to have field level awareness of the safety management system, and industry has been doing a lot of grappling with what that means in the past two years. Obviously, training on a management system to field to the frontline field staff is a tricky situation in and of itself.
What Lori and I have actually been doing is developing a specific field level training module that we’re going to be able to offer to industry that’s not based on necessarily the management system itself. We’re not training people on what the leadership element or section of RP 1173 is.
It’s more about, these are the types of work that you’re doing in the field, and how that work is supposed to be interactive with the management system. That goes back to the point, Russel, we were just making, is it’s got to be in the same lingo. It’s got to feel operational to the field level personnel in order for them to want to do it. For them to think that it’s a part of their job.
Russel: Whenever I have this conversation, I go back to my MBA. My MBA was focused on management systems, more quality management than safety management, but those are first cousins. We looked at various mechanisms, and it was also manufacturing centric.
In that kind of world, you do a lot of PERT diagramming where you take and you figure out, where are the nodules of the work? Then you look at, what are the key inputs and outputs and controls around that work nodule?
We’re not to that point yet in pipelining, and we haven’t normalized our thinking about the work in pipelining that way. I would assert, I don’t know that it’s true, but I would assert that we’re going to have to get there to get to the level of measurement and tracking to really get the tide to come up and lift all the boats.
Again, that just takes time because there’s a fair amount of just getting everybody to a common language and understanding is just not trivial. It’s a long term and difficult process.
Colin: It is, Russel. We’ve actually, going back to the benchmarking data itself, so we are actually publishing the industry averages per section from a conformance standpoint on where industry is as part of the Pipeline SMS industry team’s annual report.
We’re, again, in the spirit of trying to align everyone on the approach and be transparent about the process. We don’t want to be accused of this being some kind of very secretive thing because it behooves everyone to know where the industry is so that we can create the right kind of solutions at the right level to meet industry where they are.
We do plan on publishing those industry averages year over year and to start showing the actual trends in industry conformance to RP 1173.
Before, Laurie had mentioned a couple of things, and I would like to say one of the biggest things that I’ve seen come out of the benchmarking is that leadership, at least in the companies that we’ve assessed, are doing really well at safety culture and trying to foster a positive safety culture internally that encourages more reporting as opposed to less reporting.
I think from a culture perspective, that’s the biggest hurdle that companies have to get over in order for the management system to really do what it’s supposed to do.
If people aren’t participating and are not part of the process and don’t feel empowered to report things and not feel like there will be retribution associated, then the management system isn’t going to do what it’s supposed to do anyway.
We’re very encouraged at the positive safety culture benchmarking data that we’ve been able to pull. I think the average conformance of safety culture for industry is close to a 2.5 or a 2.75 out of 3?
Russel: I would also argue that there’s good notional evidence that that’s working. Again, you just talk about the SMS workshop at the AGA and then not only that workshop, but how that conversation just permeated all the committee work.
It’s clear that people are leaning into the question and that that leadership is driving things that way. Right. To me, that’s a qualitative kind of thing. It’s not a quantitative kind of thing, but if you have the quantitative and you don’t see the qualitative, then you have to ask a question. To me, those two things, they correlate.
Colin: And especially from a safety management system perspective, I would argue if you don’t have a positive safety culture, your management system isn’t going to be effective anyway.
Russel: True. That’s right. That’s right.
Laurie: That’s something that I witnessed in the field, what Colin was saying, it was quite impressive. The freedom of the workers, whether they’re direct hires or whether they’re contractors. It didn’t matter. The freedom to speak up, or to stop work, or to ask a question. It was very, very impressive.
Russel: That’s all key. I do think too, that just personal safety and all the work we’ve done in that domain in the last 15 years helps accelerate process safety. Because there’s a lot of attitudes that need to be in place, and those attitudes you need around personal safety too, you have to believe it matters. You have to believe it’s important.
I want to talk a little bit about stakeholder engagement. Again, I have a premise that as we begin to mature in this safety journey, that one of the big things that’s going to be important is more effective stakeholder engagement to inform what we’re doing. Where are we as an industry around tying 1185 into 1173?
Colin: That is a very good question, Russel.
Russel: I am just jam packed full of good questions.
Colin: Hold on. Just hold on to them.
Russel: Don’t have any answers for anybody, but I got loads of questions.
Colin: No, that’s a very good point. I would say where we see stakeholder engagement, specific to the benchmarking that we collect as part of our assessments, are really two separate things. One is the positive, and that we see people doing public awareness programs very well. They are regulatory required programs. That’s really the push of information out to the public.
The not so good on the other side of that coin is the feedback loop of information coming back from the public on how that safety messaging is received and what information they want. What we’re seeing is good scores on the public awareness piece of it, but not good scores on closing the feedback loop and actively engaging with your external stakeholders, which is the entire point of 1185.
What we are hoping is, once published, knock on wood, hopefully, that is published and approved very, very soon, is that in the rewrite of 1173, they can do a little more digesting of the interplay between the two standards.
What I see happening is 1173 probably won’t change that much as far as the requirements to have the programs and have that feedback loop, but 1185 I see is really helping operators understand the mechanics of how to implement those types of programs in a more robust way.
Russel: I would also argue too that the focus on 1185 has been the third party stakeholders, landowners, that sort of thing, and has not been a lot on internal or more direct stakeholders like contractors and the folks performing the work, and stakeholder engagement should address all of that.
The kind of information you’re trying to feed back changes a bit, but the processes are the same. The information to improve my safety program, again, the closer that source of information is to the work itself, the better we’re going to do.
Colin: Right. I think specifically to your point about the contractors knowing that they do such a large percentage of that work, the contractor work that we’ve done with trying to align to the 56 requirements of 1173 that we think are the core of what the field level work is doing is really going to help operators focus their engagements with contractors on safety in a more strategic way.
Instead of it being this whole, for lack of a better term, loosey goosey, let’s talk about the entire world of safety with your contractors, there can be a lot more targeted discussions about what the contractor safety programs are actually doing specific to these requirements.
What we hope to happen is that, not from the public stakeholder side because that’s a different animal, but at least from the contractor side that that will help.
Russel: I want to pivot a little bit and talk about how industry can lean in better and get involved with SMS. What kinds of things should pipeline operators be doing, and what should they be aware of in the upcoming year related to getting on board and participating in the safety journey?
Colin: I would say, first and foremost, if you haven’t conducted an internal gap assessment to all 234 requirements of 1173, now is the time.
Whether you want to do that internally or you want to have us come in and do an assessment of all 234, which is what our program is set to do, really understanding where you are relative to your peers, which an operator can see through our benchmarking that they get as a result of participating, is really base level.
I think especially as the program matures, now is probably the time when the smaller operators are starting to see the groundswell and are starting to realize that this isn’t going away and that they need to get on board because that is where we see more incidents occurring. That is the audience we want to reach, is we want everyone to be a part of this journey.
I do think that with the publication of 1185 in the coming year, that’s definitely something operators should be very focused on only because it does provide you so much more details on the stakeholder engagement requirements that already exist in 1173.
Laurie: I think that a really important thing that operators and contractors can do is to become involved in rewrites of standard or rewrites of a regulation. Most of them are open to the public. This way here, not only do you hear the direction it’s going so it gives you that leading information, but you also have your opportunity to have a voice.
A lot of these RPs or standards or regulations from the government, obviously they direct how you’re going to run your company, so it would be nice to have a voice in how your company is going to operate. I know it’s time consuming but it’s well worth the effort.
Then obviously, all of these industry organizations, even if they’re not a standard writer or a regulator, you learn so much and you can share so much. That’s one of the biggest things, is by sharing. We look at our experienced workers to train our new workers.
Sharing lessons learned and sharing things that are of benefit that may be savings in multiple ways is critical to the success of anything. Getting out there, and not being isolated, and joining industry organizations and teams is a big factor.
Colin: One other thing I’ll add, Russel, to that is, we spent a lot of time today talking about engagement of the front line worker.
Focusing, especially for those who are already well on their implementation journey, paying attention to the awareness training that they’re giving to the front line worker and educating that group specifically on how they interact with the management system is where the focus should be.
I would argue thematically that that’s probably a big theme coming out of our benchmarking exercises, is just what’s on paper isn’t necessarily how things are actually happening in the field. Helping align that approach is going to help operators across the board have better management systems and better engagement from those front line workers.
Russel: Yeah, absolutely.
What I would recommend for anybody who is starting the journey or anybody who, even if your company’s on the journey, you want to get caught up with what the industry’s doing, two things.
One, go to the API pipelinesms.org site and surf around and look at all the resources there. The other thing is to read the annual reports because the annual reports actually give you a good idea of where we are as an industry on this journey and what the industry plan is for this journey.
We’ll link those resources up in the show notes so that folks can go to the website and find that if they want to.
What would you guys ask that operators take away from this conversation?
Colin: From my perspective, Russel, I would just say that, especially for those who are just starting, it may seem daunting but we are committed to the fact that this is a journey.
There is no requirement that you be a level three maturity by any such date. It’s really more about the plan, do, check, act process of applying that to your operations and putting the processes in place so that you are programmatically addressing risk and trying to improve your safety programs across the board.
For mature operators, that’s more of don’t lose focus. This isn’t going away. Really put an effort into your management reviews, your risk reviews, your safety culture surveys that I know lots of people are doing now. Those can give you valuable pieces of information on how to better your programs.
Laurie: One of the things, Russel, is on the pipelinesms.org website, there’s lots of free available resources there. We not only have the contractor tool, but we have a brand new operator tool. We designed these with all dropdowns because the contractor tool is 56 should/shall statements. The operator tool is 234.
When you think of answering 234 things, you just get overloaded and overwhelmed immediately, so we created these with all dropdowns. All you have to do is select the dropdown. It automatically populates graphs and charts to give you that visual, which, again, can be used as a KPI.
If you use those tools, whatever, quarterly, semi annually, annually. As long as you save the work, because it is an Excel spreadsheet. It is limited in what it can do. It’s not software.
You can use those as KPIs to see where you are and where your company is going. The website sometimes can be a little tricky. As with anything, links can break. If anybody has any difficulty with those, just email because all those emails come to me. I answer them every day. I’m happy to send them direct.
Colin: Pipelinesms@api.org is that email address.
Laurie: Right, and I’m happy to…
Russel: Now I know the lady behind the email address.
Laurie: It’s really me. I really do respond back to you.
Russel: Guys, thanks so much for taking the time to talk us through and catch us up with what’s going on. My take is that we, as an industry, are still very, very early in this journey and there’s a lot of work to be done. I do think you’re already starting to see some benefit and value for the industry. There’s a lot more gold in them there hills, if you will.
Thanks for your time. I look forward to running into you guys as we go through the trade show circuit here in the upcoming year.
Colin: Great to chat with you, Russel. Thanks so much for having us on today.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast and our conversation with Colin and Laurie. Just a reminder, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit PipelinePodcastNetwork.com/Win and enter yourself in the drawing.
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Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords