Operator Qualification Requirements and ISNetworld
Since 2001, ISN has sought to streamline record management and provided Operator Qualification (OQ) services for the midstream industry. The company grew as a result of the US Department of Transportation (DOT) publishing the Operator Qualification rule (CFR 49 sub part 192 and 195) in August 1999.
The OQ rule mandated all operators of interstate pipeline facilities are responsible for measuring the knowledge of all employees that perform maintenance-related tasks on and/or around active pipeline installations. Since then, ISNetworld has served as the industry leader in tracking and managing OQ records for pipeline operators.
ISNetworld is a platform for Hiring Clients to build and customize OQ covered task lists and manage OQ regulatory requirements for contractors and employees with verified, third-party data.
As of 2019, there are more than 48 Million OQ reports in ISNetworld and 83+ Operators effectively using ISNetworld to maintain OQ compliance.
A History of the OQ Rule Training Requirements
In reaction to the OQ rule, a volunteer group of approximately 40 liquid pipeline operators, representing 80% of all regulated pipeline system in the U.S., convened in September 1999 to establish the Consortium on Operator Qualifications (COOQs) group. The non-prescriptive nature of the law made it necessary for the industry to establish standardized and practical guidelines to help meet stringent regulatory expectations.
In December 2000, COOQs partnered with the American Petroleum Institute (API) to develop an accredited, consistent and standardized evaluation process. These standards were shared in the API GD 1161 publication.
The consortium then partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), which developed curriculum to support a training and education program for the industry. Over the years, several other training providers have developed their own versions of curriculum, training delivery methods and performance evaluation processes.
Challenges with the New OQ Compliance Regulations
With the new rule came the responsibility to manage qualifications and performance evaluation records for thousands of workers in the midstream industry. To add to the complexity, the records and data needed to be:
- Collected from multiple training providers and performance evaluators
- Current and regularly updated
- Stored in a centralized database accessible to thousands of end users
- Secure since they involve sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers
- Retained indefinitely for regulatory audit purposes
Standardization and Non-prescriptive Regulation
The OQ rule, however, did not provide for clear and prescriptive regulatory requirements.
The pipeline industry later approached the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to sponsor the development of a national consensus standard on pipeline operator qualification. Four years after the date of the original DOT rulemaking, ASME published the B31Q national standard. This standard established the requirements for developing and implementing an effective Pipeline Personnel Qualification Program using the accepted industry practices.
As a result, the industry was faced with massive training and re-training requirements. Fortunately, there are a variety of training providers today, and each pipeline operator can decide which providers’ solution can be approved for their specific purpose and task list.
ISNetworld: A Flexible OQ Tool for Hiring Clients and Contractors
In December 2000, ISN reached an agreement to be the electronic distributor with NCCER as ISN’s first data provider of Operator Qualifications.
ISNetworld, working with the pipeline industry, developed an innovative OQ management tool. Today, it is the leading tool of its kind in the midstream industry. The tool helps automatically match individual qualification records with requirements through a task list to identify specific tasks an individual is qualified to perform.
ISNetworld’s OQ tool connects third-party training systems’ contractor employee records to existing required documentation for Hiring Clients. This allows contractors to select the best fit for their employees’ needs and Hiring Client requirements for their OQ training.
Currently, 69+ million qualification records are under ISN’s management, which are updated regularly via an automatic direct feed with multiple training providers’ databases. ISN has an active data sharing agreement with 12 OQ training organizations/data providers to feed data into the ISNetworld database. This provides a configurable solution for Hiring Clients to customize their task lists and OQ requirements regularly.
In addition to the 12 OQ data providers, ISNetworld has established data feeds with 14 Drug & Alcohol data providers, many of which audit for DOT compliance. Pipeline Operators benefit from having one centralized location to check OQ and DOT Drug & Alcohol Compliance.
A benefit to operators using ISN’s platform for OQ management is a streamlined process for maintaining regulatory compliance with the expansive data providers options for both the client and their contractors in becoming qualified.
ISNetworld’s OQ management tool contains these additional features:
- An automated OQ report, updated dynamically with latest information
- Automated reminders of qualification renewal dates and/or changes in compliance
- Ability to scan for compliance through an ID card, mobile app or hand-held device
Managing OQ Compliance with ISNetworld Features
ISNetworld’s robust OQ reporting capabilities allow operators and contractors to easily identify individuals qualified to perform covered tasks for an operator. Reporting can be done at the employee level or project level, allowing flexibility for the end user. Gap reporting identifies unqualified or expired individuals and which qualification components are lacking.
ISNetworld’s badge scanning and mobile compatibility allows operators to monitor real-time compliance for employees on site or prior to arriving. Operators can configure scanning requirements that can include OQ task qualification, DOT drug & alcohol status, site orientation status, company-level compliance and others.
Get Support for OQ Requirements
Government regulations often are instituted to protect individuals, organizations and/or institutions from undesired and harmful outcomes. As incidents related to pipelines persist, so do industry initiatives and increased regulation for operators with pipeline assets.
ISN offers tools to meet these regulatory reporting and recordkeeping requirements while allowing each operator to configure their task list to meet company specific policies and projects. As the regulatory and industry best practice landscapes continue to change, ISNetworld allows for easy communication and dissemination of changing requirements to companies and employees impacted by these updates.
By communicating, monitoring and enforcing your OQ plan through ISNetworld, our goal is to help monitor compliance, ultimately creating a safer work environment for all pipeline workers by supporting a reduction in overall incidents.
If you are a Hiring Client and want to learn more about managing your OQ through ISNetworld, contact your ISN representative for more information.
Are you a Hiring Client and interested to learn how ISN could help you manage your contractors and operator qualifications? Request a demo of our contractor management system, ISNetworld.
If you are a contractor managing OQ requirements through ISNetworld and need help, contact our customer support team for more information.