CONNstruction - Summer 2014 - (Page 7)

newsandviews Standardizing OQ By Don Shubert CCIA President When the state's comprehensive energy policy was developed, one of the key components for its overall success was to have Connecticut construction companies and workers perform the work on the natural gas expansion plans. Since there weren't many Connecticut-based contractors qualified to do the work, ensuring that hundreds of expected job openings would be filled by Connecticut employees became a priority. At the outset, we hosted a series of meetings that included state agency officials, public utilities, training providers, industry associations, contractors, labor representatives, and others. Many of the participants never worked together before and weren't particularly comfortable working with others who they didn't know. Fortunately, the fact that all of the participants shared the common goal of ensuring that Connecticut companies and workers would deliver the natural gas expansion plans overcame those concerns. The participants in the work groups plan to continue working together in new ways to make sure Connecticut companies and workers perform the pipeline expansion work as it comes on line. A basic challenge facing the group was that the contractor and workforce qualifications to perform the work were based on obscure federal regulations known as "OQ". Almost everyone in the room had different ideas about how to comply with the rules. The confusion grew out of the way the rule is designed. The U.S. Department of Transportation Operator Qualification final rule 49 CFR 192 Subpart N requires operators of gas pipeline facilities to develop and maintain a qualification program for individuals performing covered tasks on their facilities. The intent of the OQ rule is to minimize human error by establishing a qualified workforce. This means that, under the regulations, every public utility gas pipeline operator in Connecticut has the responsibility to ensure that every individual, whether employed by the operator or by a contractor who performs a covered task on the operator's pipeline facility, must either be qualified to perform those tasks or be directed and observed by a qualified person. The challenge arose when everyone realized that the operators have different interpretations and ideas about what specific job tasks are covered tasks under the federal regulations, what the qualification requirements are to perform certain job functions, how to configure crews, and so on to comply with the federal rules. Simply, the working group found it very difficult to figure out how to most efficiently and effectively qualify contractors and train a workforce when the operators didn't agree on what was required. Everyone knew that in order to create a pool of qualified Connecticut contractors and train workers to perform the work, the utilities had to agree on a set of standards for OQ implementation that were understandable and practical. The Northeast Gas Association told us that this was attempted years ago but abandoned and offered to facilitate the exercise again. Fortunately, several very talented representatives from the utilities volunteered to work with NGA on it. They first decided to divide the covered tasks into only two categories: repair of existing services and installation of new services, which was a giant step in the right direction. The next steps would be to gain agreement on which covered tasks were required for each, and break it down by crew. As this edition is published, the Northeast Gas Association and its Connecticut members will likely have completed a covered task list for OQ that is going to be adopted in not only Connecticut, but in New Jersey, New York, and the rest of New England. This will significantly improve the apprenticeship training programs', jobs funnels', training providers', and contractors' efforts to align their workforce development efforts to create the cache of Connecticut companies and workers qualified to perform the work. It is just the beginning. The participants in the work groups plan to continue working together in new ways to make sure Connecticut companies and workers perform the pipeline expansion work as it comes on line. Some pretty big challenges still lie ahead, but we are off to a great start. CONNstruction / SUMMER 2014 / 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2014

Standardizing OQ
Measuring Mud on Construction Sites
2014 General Assembly Concludes
Transition to Natural Gas Holds Promise of Construction Jobs
CEFIA: Banking on Energy
The Public Policy Behind Energy in Connecticut
Call Before You Dig
The 2014 AGC/CT Build CT Awards and 67th Annual Meeting
The Second Annual Construction Industry Joint Forces Luncheon
Travelers Congratulates CCIA for 15 Years of Insurance Excellence
Agc of Connecticut Honored Nationally
CCIA | AGC of CT Young Contractors Forum - Membership Meeting
Index to Advertisers /

CONNstruction - Summer 2014