This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features Jim Francis discussing API RP 1173 (Pipeline Safety Management Systems), its unwritten standards, and how PSMS plays into safety management.
In this episode, you will learn about the current state of safety in the pipeline industry, how pipeline safety management and regulatory compliance coincide, the relationship between quality management and safety management, and how API RP 1173 has many unwritten requirements.
Safety Management: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms
- Jim Francis is the Vice President of SMS consulting at EN Engineering. Connect with Jim on LinkedIn.
- EN Engineering provides comprehensive and dependable engineering, consulting, and automation services to pipeline companies, gas and electric utilities, and industrial customers.
- API (American Petroleum Institute) represents all segments of America’s natural gas and oil industry. API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational and environmental safety, efficiency, and sustainability.
- API RP 1173 established the framework for operators to implement pipeline safety management systems. The PSMS standard includes 10 core elements.
- Pipeline SMS (Pipeline Safety Management Systems) or PSMS is an industry-wide focus to improve pipeline safety, driving toward zero incidents.
- DIMP (Distribution Integrity Management Program) activities are focused on obtaining and evaluating information related to the distribution system that is critical for a risk-based, proactive integrity management program that involves programmatically remediating risks.
- 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.
- AGA (American Gas Association) represents companies delivering natural gas safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible way to help improve the quality of life for their customers every day.
- Gap Analysis is the means by which a company can recognize its current state—by measuring time, money, and labor—and compare it to its target state. By defining and analyzing these gaps, the management team can create an action plan to move the organization forward and fill in the performance gaps.
- ISO 9001 sets the criteria for quality management in a variety of industries, including petroleum, petrochemical, and natural gas industries.
- OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is an agency in the United States Department of Labor. Their mission is to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”
- MOC (Management Of Change) focuses on planning the processes in a system, the type and quality of changes required, the risks associated with the plan for change, and the people that will be impacted by the change so that it is clearly communicated to stakeholders.
- Nightmare Pipeline Failures by Jan Hayes and Andrew Hopkins is the book mentioned by Russel Treat.
Safety Management: Full Episode Transcript
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, episode 240, sponsored by Burns & McDonnell, delivering pipeline projects with an integrated construction and design mindset, connecting all the elements, design, procurement, sequencing at the side. Burns & McDonnell uses its vast knowledge, the latest technology, and an ownership commitment to safely deliver innovative quality projects. Burns & McDonnell is designed to build and keep it all connected. Learn more at burnsmcd.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 our appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week our winner is Randy Jackson with Easton Energy. Congratulations Randy. Your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around till the end of the episode.
This week, Jim Francis with EN Engineering is joining us to talk about the relationship between quality management and safety management, and the unwritten requirements of API 1173.
Jim, welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.
Jim Francis: Hey. Thanks, Russel. Glad to be here.
Russel: Tell me, if you would, a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you got into pipelining.
Jim: It’s funny. When I was a kid, I lived in Michigan. I knew when I got out of college, I was going to go back to Detroit and become an automotive engineer. Somehow along the way, I started co-oping for a utility. I don’t know. It stuck with me ever since then. I was fortunate enough to start my career designing transmission pipelines, even before the advent of the integrity management programs.
As it went on from there, additional responsibilities, and getting into things like measurement, and system planning, and operations, and all the odds and ends and the things that come about maybe when you’re the new guy on the block, and somebody needs to fill a gap there.
I ended up with a lengthy career on the pipeline safety side. As my career went, things like OQ came out, and the transmission integrity rules came out, and then DIMP came out, and the next thing, and the next thing. I was in the middle of it all.
Ultimately, when 1173 was created and they needed somebody to go lead that, it was handed to me, it was put on my desk, and I had the pleasure and the opportunity to go build the program and put some people around it, and see if it could make a difference.
Russel: That’s a really interesting background to me, Jim, because you’ve done many of the things you can do engineering-wise in the pipelining space, so you’re familiar with lots of the aspects.
With that the pinnacle, or getting later in your career that becoming all about the safety programs and then finally about safety management, I guess the first question I’d like to ask you is, what do you think the state of the industry is? Where are the operators in terms of their adoption and implementation of 1173?
Jim: It’s interesting. Back in 2015, when 1173 was first conceived, I was fortunate to work for a company that committed to it from the get go. I remember sitting at a workshop through the AGA, and there was nobody in the room that knew anything about it. [laughs]
We got into this discussion and I felt like I was answering all the questions, and only because I had the opportunity to work with some people who had come from other industries. They got what quality programs were, they understood how it related to compliance, all these other things.
Fast forward, I had the opportunity to sit in on the quality management committee with the AGA, and there are a whole lot more people that get it. They understand the concepts. They’re making progress around it.
Yet, as we look at our clients and some of the things that we serve, I would say there are very few that have reached the pinnacle of it that are working toward that level five type of maturity where they’re actually making a lot of progress and able to measure their risk reduction. I’d say most companies are somewhere between the GAP analysis and that end state that you’re trying to get to.
If I had to guess and put a number on it, I would say, look, the industry is at 40 percent implementation. They’ve started procedures on certain elements. They’re certain things that they’re developing and building upon what they’ve already had, which is certainly a great way to do it.
Then there are a handful of companies that are still in the, “oh my gosh, I don’t know what this is for us, so let’s go figure it out still. Let’s do a gap analysis. Let’s understand how we start to implement it.” Clearly, we’re making more progress. I got to witness more conversations through the AGA and some others where people are talking about their incidents on a deeper level.
They’re talking more about the things that they’re doing to try to mitigate risk. It’s a better conversation that we’re having. It’s not quite the conversation we need to have, but it’s certainly making progress around it.
Russel: The way I would characterize it is we’re certainly mobilized, we’re certainly moving in the right direction. I think we’re gaining velocity, but I think we have a very long way to go.
Jim: Yeah, no doubt.
Russel: That’s kind of my take on it.
Jim: Yeah. I agree. I like your term around velocity because I do think…A lot of times what I would tell people is, start with the risk management process. The reason why I always tell people that is because it’s an accelerator.
It has this sort of natural tendency to kind of push organizations forward in a much faster way. You pick up velocity when you start to do that, and you pick up momentum around it and it just starts to churn and becomes this process that it’s a lot like certain HR processes you go through.
Every single year you have to go through performance reviews and then you go through salary adjustments. It turns itself. Similarly, SMS does the same thing. It snowballs on itself and really drives a tremendous amount of momentum. Velocity’s a great word around it.
Russel: What I would say that my experience around of where I think people are by and large, is they’re doing GAP analysis, they’re doing cultural assessment. That’s about as far as they’ve gotten. We’re beginning to see people transition beyond that.
One of the questions I’d want to ask is what’s going to be required to get beyond those first two steps? Those two things to me are straightforward, low-hanging fruit. Then once you have that kind of basic, basic groundwork done, now you start getting into the real work of safety management. What’s really required to get there?
Jim: Yeah. It is hard. I did a blog earlier this year and I talk about safety management systems in general. One of the things I mentioned was, it’s hard. It’s because of all of the structure around it, that’s necessary to be put in place.
It’s because all of the things that you do are connected to it. The moment, once again, you start putting something in place, now you start touching all these other parts and pieces. It requires people to have, one, people dedicated to it.
That’s a struggle that I see a lot of our clients and I see others who have gone down this path. It’s like, “Are you really committing the resources?” You see people in these sort of camps of, “Well, I’m going to hand it to your junior DIMP engineer and say, ‘Here, go figure out what this means and go implement it.'”
As opposed to, “I’m going to commit an executive to it. They’re going to build a team around that person. Then that person’s going to be given the resources to go execute it.” Because it requires accountability.
What is the model that you have, and how do you start to build your resources around that to make sure that you’ve got adequate accountability to go execute the thing?
Russel: That brings up what I think is another really important question. That is, what is the relationship between regulatory compliance and pipeline safety management?
Jim: This is an interesting thing and I thought about what your company does. Let me ask you this question. Take a control room operator and somebody that actually has to execute compliance requirements.
How do you know whether he’s complying, right? You tell me. How do you know that operator is actually executing the thing he’s supposed to?
Russel: Yeah, that’s a great question. You have to understand your program. Your program being, “This is my policy. These are my procedures. This is how my policies and procedures relate back to the regulatory requirements and demonstrate that I’m executing them.” You’ve got to have that in place.
Then the other thing you have to have is records evidencing that you’re actually doing it. That is training records. That is records that are the result of doing the work, that can be looked at, evaluated, and demonstrate that I’m doing those things that my policies and procedures say I’m supposed to do.
That is what you have to have in place to do compliance.
Jim: Then how do you know whether they’re actually effective at what they’re doing? It’s one thing for me to say, “Hey, yeah, I did this communication as part of this process and I documented it on my log, but it wasn’t really done well.” Did it really have an impact?
Russel: Yeah. This gets into real safety management. This is across everything we do. That whole infrastructure I just laid out is kind of a prerequisite to doing safety management.
Jim: That’s right.
Russel: Because without that, I have no ability to analyze and determine the efficacy of those things that I’m doing. To me, safety management starts to happen when you have all that policy and procedure, and recordkeeping in place.
You have a dedicated team and focus that’s looking at all of that and asking questions about what is the safety effectiveness of that activity? Then the next level is, now I got to look across all of that globally.
I’ve got to ask questions like, well, am I doing things that I’m doing simply to check off a compliance item but it has no safety efficacy, and are there other things that I’m not doing that I should be doing that are not required from a compliance standpoint but I really ought to be doing because there is a lot of safety efficacy in that?
That’s what pipeline safety management is all about. It’s getting to that.
Jim: The reason why the progress around it is maybe a little less advanced than what we think it can be is because of that complexity. Trying to figure out, where do you spend the time? Even when you implement 1173, there is still that compliance component to it.
The thing that takes it over the top is there are requirements around, is your risk assessment process or your risk management process effective? There is this whole idea of how do you measure the quality, and how do you focus your time and your resources? Which is where risk management starts to come into play.
How do you focus your time and resources, and then how do you measure whether they’re effective at what they’re doing? Are you really making the right progress?
Russel: I don’t think our industry’s wrestled with this yet, but one of the challenges is, I could be doing everything I need to do and be 100 percent perfectly compliant, and still have material safety risk. That is problematic.
Likewise, there are real world situations where it makes sense to invest my resources in a way that’s not purely for compliance where I might see my compliance come down but my safety comes up. That is an industry problem. That’s bigger than just the operators. That impacts all the state and federal regulators as well.
There are things that are necessary and required that we’re not even really rubbing up against those questions yet as an industry.
Jim: Yeah. Totally agree. That’s why when we see us collectively getting together to talk about 1173, we spend more time talking about the incidents, right? It’s already occurred, the thing has happened, but the whole point of 1173, and the whole point of a pipeline safety management system is to mitigate the risk before it occurs.
Our evolution needs to be that we start talking about the risk that we’re starting to see in the processes that are inherently causing the biggest issues.
Then instead of the regulators per se having to regulate something after an incident, maybe we collectively work with them on, here’s the opportunities that we see to improve things, based on the risk assessments, and the valuations that we’ve done, and the mitigations.
We’ve seen it be effective because we’ve measured the quality around those processes, and we have good quality control built into all that.
Russel: That tees up another question. What is the relationship between quality management and safety management?
Jim: It’s an interesting question because we get asked it all the time. A lot of times, what we see is our clients viewing them as two very different things. The AGA Quality Management committee actually just did a study where they looked at quality programs, they looked at different safety management systems, they kind of aligned them out.
What you start to realize is they’re largely the same. There are certainly some nuances in them. If you look at ISO 9001, it doesn’t necessarily have a risk component. There are some things that are implied there. Whereas, the safety management system has a clear requirement around it. Really, it’s the lens with which you look at things.
The quality management systems are generally focused on the customer. Is your product, is your service actually living up to what it’s intended to be, and is it meeting the customer’s demand? Whereas, the safety management system is largely based on your processes. The things that you’re doing internally.
There is a clear relationship between them. Because if you do your safety management system, and if you do your processes and exercise them, execute them well, then largely, that will result in providing a quality service and product to your end customer. What I would always tell people is, look, don’t develop two different systems.
Figure out how they relate, integrate them, and make sure what you’re implementing, because you only have finite resources, so you’ve got to implement a process that’s efficient. It’s got to work effectively. Put the two together and see how it really drives change for you.
Russel: I absolutely concur with that, Jim. The need we have is to figure out how we take what’s currently primarily a compliance activity and take that capability and transform it to where that capability is compliance, quality, and safety, and it’s all part of the same fundamental competency in a pipeline operation.
Russel: That is very much a non-trivial conversation. It’s very much a non-trivial conversation.
Jim: Which is why we’re seven years after the implementation of 1173, and we still are not 100 percent implemented. [laughs]
Russel: That’s right. It’d be interesting to look at other industries like nuclear power, airlines, and chemical processing where they have more mature safety management programs in those industries. Really look at how long did it take for them to mature and really start adding benefit.
I would offer that it’s probably in the second decade of those programs that you actually start seeing some real benefit.
Jim: Yeah, I’d say that’s fair. Early in the development of the SMS, when I first started this back in 2015, one of my colleagues and I had a fair amount of conversations with people in other industries. We’re trying to figure out, well, this is what we’re thinking about and the terms of the way that we’re going to implement this, and what are you guys seeing?
It was amazing how many of them were still at OSHA occupational safety processes. That’s what they viewed as their safety management system. Then you finally talk to the one person and you can see that evolution, you can see that advancement. Even within those industries, there are still people out there.
This is part of, as new people come in, they have to learn and understand it all, and you gotta have that infrastructure in place to make sure that you can transition your organizations and your industry in the right way.
Russel: Again, I couldn’t agree more. We’re kind of noodling on this, we’re kind of talking about it, but some of the things we’re talking about in terms of the kinds of capabilities and organizational structure you need to have really effective safety management programs, they’re the unwritten requirements of what’s in 1173. What are some of the other unwritten requirements of 1173?
Jim: The biggest one, and it’s interesting because 1173 has literally one sentence there about quality control. They specifically talk about it in terms of materials, making sure your materials and your construction is done so that your pipeline is constructed in the right way.
When you start to think about all of the things that you do in your business, all the customer service, how many times does somebody walk into a customer’s home and they play around with their appliances, and they got to make sure that there’s no leaking gas that has nothing to do with construction or your materials, but it’s all about your processes.
How many times do you get a call from your customer service folks, or maybe your IT systems? Are they transferring your information to your people in the right way? Think about what your transmission integrity folks know.
They know where all the processes are, where there’s gaps that need to be filled. That’s the importance of having this quality control process. The standard doesn’t really talk enough about it. Every time you do an MOC, and every time you implement a change, how do you know that change was effective?
You have to make sure that it’s been implemented fully, and then you gotta make sure that your changes are actually effective, they drive the change, and mitigate the risks of the things that you’re trying to accomplish.
There’s just so many things that are out there. The rule itself doesn’t really adequately address it, but it’s such a huge component of the success of implementing an SMS.
Russel: One of the things that I think too about these unwritten requirements is we have to rethink the way we do risk management. Risk management in our industry, I would assert, is primarily used as a mechanism to determine what should get to the top of the list and have resources applied to.
It’s not used as a mechanism to ask the question, “What are the things we’re not doing that we should be doing?” It’s more about, “Here’s my programs, here’s the things I do, and of the things I do, these are the ones that go to the top because they’re the ones that have the highest risk score.”
They’re not really used to looking at, “What are the things I’m not doing that I should be doing? What are the risks that I’m not looking at that I ought to be looking at?”
Jim: Unfortunately, until you have an incident, you don’t ask the question. When you go talk to operators, and this is the fascinating thing, you talk to guys that own the assets, the people that do the work in the field every single day. They can tell you those things that concern them.
I had a recent discussion with somebody at a client’s and they were talking about that exact concept. It’s like, “Look, I get the things that I can see, touch, and feel. It’s the stuff that I’m not ever getting my eyes on that I’m not comfortable with. How do I know whether I should or shouldn’t be putting my time and resources into doing something about that?”
People think about it, and they just need to make sure that processes are in place to be able to collect those concerns of folks, and don’t make the assumption that, “Well, because we have X many damages, that’s where we ought to spend our time.”
Surely we do. On the other hand, there’s those hidden things that the only way you can find them is to go talk to the people that know.
Russel: It’s really not even that linear because it’s going to the guys who have the knowledge and experience and asking them, “What is the thing that’s in your gut that you don’t know how to verbalize, and how do I make that something I can actually address and deal with?”
Because I think good engineers in our business inherently know what the risks are. Those risks can be kind of categorized in two ways. There’s those things that we kind of know about, we’re working on, and we’re managing. There’s those things that we know about, and we’ve made a conscious decision that it’s not important enough to deal with.
Then there’s that other stuff that’s kind of in our gut, in our intellect, but it’s not been surfaced to our conscious mind. That’s a very metaphysical conversation, but I think it’s very material in this context, because what process safety management, what pipeline safety management, or public safety management is all about is figuring out how to deal with those things that have a very low probability and yet a very high consequence.
That’s a different animal.
Jim: Yeah, no doubt.
Russel: Again, I’m kind of exploring in my mind what are some of the unwritten requirements in 1173. It’s, how do I get my risk management program to capture and address those things?
Jim: You actually said it when you were describing the, “You got to allow people to talk about risks in their terms.” They’re not going to talk about, “Hey, well, this process is broken and this is the step in it.” What they talk about is, “Hey, when I go into a customer site, I don’t really have a lot of comfort that the customer, for example, has evaluated whether their piping was…”
You let them talk in their terms and you document it in their terms. What you start to realize is there’s ways to start to see the connections between what other people are worried about.
Then you let the engineers, as the engineers who understand the processes, try to figure out, “Well, when they’re talking about these things, which processes are they really talking about?” Then you can start to dig in, do the deep dives into those, identify where there’s improvements.
Then you bring those people back in to say, “Hey, how would you fix it? This is what we’ve learned. How would you fix it?” and let them do continuous improvement around it.
Russel: There’s an information or communications collection exercise, and then there’s some analysis to take that information you’ve collected and try to get it in a box that you can deal with. Then there is, “OK. Now let’s apply those things that we know how to apply to do our work.”
Jim: Yep. It becomes this really powerful thing. It’s this moment. I’ve actually watched guys chase down people because they wanted to talk about some concern that they have, once again, in their terms.
They’re like, “Hey, I see this process actually working. I see we’re making improvements to this. I see it’s making a difference in the safety of our communities, and our workforce, and everything else.” Then they want to engage.
Then that’s where we talked about the accelerators around this and the velocity’s starting to pick up. That’s when you start to see things really occur. It takes a lot more than just, I mean, once again, like unwritten rules.
You’ve got to engage in a feedback session. It’s almost like this thing you have to do. It’s very personal. Russell engages with me. He talks to me about the things that he’s concerned about. Let’s make sure that I recognize him in a way that matters to him. He can feel it personally.
The more you can start to engage people that way, it’s unbelievable the way you’ll see the momentum pick up.
Russel: Again, I think that’s right on it. I think that as we mature, what we’re going to see is there will be some formality and structure put around how we collect that kind of stuff. That we get to a point that more people are providing it, they’re more willing to provide it, we’ll get better at processing it and evaluating it.
A lot of this goes to you’ve got to have policies, plans, and procedures that are implemented and understood and where people are well trained. You’ve got to have records that I can analyze to determine efficacy.
Then I have to have this additional capability, which is about capturing the information from the people that are doing the work or are near to the risks, and making sure that that is a competency and a capability that exists perpetually in the company.
People have a reliance on it, and a confidence in it. They know that I need to put this in, and I know it’s going to go to the right people, and the right things will be done.
Jim: What’s fascinating about the way 1173 was written, is they wrote the requirement in of having an anonymous reporting. To me, that’s an indictment on culture. Where you start to see your culture evolve around that is when nobody reports things anonymously anymore.
Because as you described it, the way those processes work and how effective they are around that, and that your people are engaged in the right way. Then you don’t have to worry about anonymous reporting because you know your culture’s moving in the direction that it ought to be.
Russel: Yeah, exactly.
I wanted to ask you about a book that I just finished reading last week. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this book, but it’s called “Nightmare Pipeline Failures.”
Jim: I have not.
Russel: Yeah. It’s written by Jan Hayes and Andrew Hopkins. They’re a couple of PhD engineers with universities in Australia. It’s a very deep look at the San Bruno and Marshall incidents from a process safety standpoint. I found it really compelling. I made a ton of notes. I bled on nearly every page in the book.
One of my key takeaways is the idea, what they call least allowable, acceptable risk, and getting clear about what that is, and building a program from that perspective. Which is kind of where the North Sea offshore program landed after Piper. What is the least acceptable risk in all these different areas, and creating mechanisms around that?
Now I know I’m catching you flat footed with this question, because you hadn’t read the book, but I’m wondering what your take is on that as a mechanism or basis for safety management versus compliance or risk.
Jim: Let me tell you one story. One of the areas of focus that my team had led, and it was around a specific risk that came up when we started listening to our folks, which was cross boards. That was an area that we decided that we were going to have to commit some resources to.
We started collecting more information. We started collecting data. We could measure the performance around it. Over the course of a four-year period, we implemented 26 different continuous improvement projects.
We saw our numbers dwindle tremendously. We saw a measured change in risk that we had quantified at about 80 percent, but it didn’t get to zero. We got to a point though, that we could say, “Look, this is a measurable amount of risk that we’re comfortable with, and we’re going to live with this.
“Not that we’re going to stop measuring it, but we’re not working on any more continuous improvement around it. We’re going to go onto something else because something else is a higher priority, something else is a higher risk, therefore, we’re comfortable.”
We know that that risk still exists out there, but at least in that case, we could quantify it. We could demonstrate the kinds of things that we did around it. Then if you still measure it, you can at least say, “Hey something has changed. Now, let’s understand what that change is. What’s occurred with that.”
Maybe you brought somebody new in, new organization, whatever. I do think all of us have to, and this is why the importance of having a good governance process and making sure that your leaders are engaged throughout, to make sure that that stuff is all getting bubbled up to the right level.
So that they can agree that, “Yep. That’s an acceptable level of risk that we’re willing to take. and it’s time for y’all to move on and work on some other risk.”
Russel: Having a good sense of, for all the various risks, what is as low as reasonably practicable? Where is that line? Having an appropriate engineering basis behind where you’re drawing that line is really critical.
Jim: Yeah. Some things are certainly easier to absorb when you have real measurables. “I know I have this many cross boards. I know I have this much excavation damage.” The harder ones are where you’re looking at a process and you’re trying to understand why that process is in control or not.
That’s where having a good quality assurance quality control process may help support you. You know for example, you may never have an incident as a result of your records, but you know that at some point in time later down the road, you possibly could.
Your quality control process might tell you, “Hey, 99 percent of your pressure test records are coming back in as designed, therefore that might be an acceptable level of risk, or acceptable level performance around it.”
Russel: No, it’s interesting. One of the other things that I took away from this book that I read that I thought was really compelling, is they talked about where they have safety programs, where there’s been really evidential improvement in safety.
The airline’s a great example of that because airline incidents are exceedingly rare. When they occur, they tend to be effectively mitigated. There’s exceptions, but they’re very, very rare. One of the things they said is important is to have some professional, whose tie to their profession is maybe even more important than their tie to the company they’re working for.
A pilot is a good example to that because there’s a certain creed, there’s a certain expectation about what a pilot is, what their duties and responsibilities are, and what they’re going to do. That is regardless who they’re flying for.
As I was reading that I’m like, “Well, what is the role in pipelining where that kind of authority would exist? How would you create a professional organization or culture around that role?”
Jim: Yeah, to some extent it’s the inspectors that are supposed to be out looking at those contractors, or whoever’s doing the construction.That to me would be a profession that exists already.
Now, whether we’ve equipped them as such, and whether we’ve given them that kind of power, I’m not sure that that’s the case.
Russel: I tend to have a different opinion. I tend to think that that’s the superintendent.
Jim: Yeah, certainly could be.
Russel: Or it’s probably the superintendent, it might be the job leader, but the role that comes up for me is a superintendent, because, I’ve known a number of good pipeline superintendents in my career, and they are a unique breed. They know all the details about the assets that they’re responsible for.
They’re the ones that have kind of that intuition about how today’s going to go or not, that you really need in that kind of role. Anyways, I thought it was a really interesting kind of question. It made me think about what pipelining is, and what the roles in pipelining are a little differently as I was reading the book.
I would highly recommend it to anybody who works in pipelining, because it asks a whole bunch of really compelling questions.
Jim: You think about how many times you’ve been on a plane and you’re totally annoyed because you have to either disembark, wait, or whatever. We’d rather have that than the consequences of something happening.
How often do we actually exercise stop-work authority before a pipeline is ever constructed or those activities are done? It’s hard to know. I don’t know what we’re measuring. I don’t know that we necessarily see it, but I don’t know.
There’s a level of professional expectation that maybe we should be setting with our folks just to make sure that that kind of impact is being made.
Russel: It’s an industry capability and industry commitment that might be required to get to a step change in safety effectiveness.
Jim: I could say I’ve seen it in pieces. I’ve been out on integrity digs, and guys are very adamant about things not moving forward until the whole world knows exactly what’s going on, the steps, and the processes.
Those are the kinds of people that you’re really comfortable with. You know that a job’s going to be done well.
Russel: That’s exactly right. Look, so Jim, we’re kind of coming to the end of our time. I think I’d just like to ask you, how would you like to leave this conversation? What do you think pipeliners ought to be taking away from this conversation we’ve been having?
Jim: As you think about the progression around 1173, first of all, commitment. If you’re going to go into it, commit to it. By committing to it, make sure you’re getting resources assigned to it. There are people out there who can certainly help, but commit to it. That’s probably the most important thing you can do.
Recognize and reward people for being involved in the process. As your field folks are talking about issues and concerns that they have, take it seriously, make sure that you’re following up on it. Make sure there’s feedback with them.
Continuous improvement, for example, can happen in little bits and pieces at a time, but all of it matters. Anyone can make an impact on that. Make sure you’re not squashing the voice of the person who’s day five on the job or the person who’s been there for 40 years. They’re all important. They all have a perspective.
Russel: My takeaway would be or the thing I would be trying to inspire people to take away from this conversation is that there’s a lot more to this pipeline safety management than what people realize, that we’re just getting started.
Particularly for those engineers that are entering our business now or maybe have 5 or 10 years in our business, they have a lot to look forward to in terms of what their contribution can be in terms of making us even more safe and more effective than what we currently are. They really ought to be students of the science of safety management.
Jim: I agree with that.
Russel: Listen, this has been fun. I enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for coming on board.
Jim: Thanks, Russel. I appreciate the time, and appreciate what you do, and sharing the message. Certainly, anybody out there who wants to talk further about this, I’m always game.
Russel: We’ll certainly be linking your stuff up in the website. If you want to find Jim, best way to do that is to go to the Pipeline Podcast Network, and just find his profile page, and you can locate it from there. Thanks again, Jim.
Jim: Thanks, Russel.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, our conversation with Jim. Just a reminder before you go, 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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Russel: If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know either on the Contact Us page at PipelinePodcastNetwork.com, or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords