THE SOURCE - Summer 2015 - (Page 26)

the pipeline OSHA Regulations Protecting the safety of our employees as they operate natural gas pipeline systems is of the utmost important to the public natural gas industry. The Occupational safety and Health (OsH) Act of 1970 created the Occupational safety and Health Administration (OsHA), and authorized OsHA to regulate workplace safety. OsHA has issued thousands of pages of regulations that address virtually every aspect of worker safety from the shoring of excavations to the proper shade of orange for factory guard rails. The latter regulation is often cited as an example of regulations gone too far; but in general, workplaces have become safer as a result of the implementation by employers of safety programs required to comply with OsHA's rules. There are two provisions of this law that limit OsHA's authority over natural gas utilities in general and public natural gas systems in particular; however, many in the natural gas industry and within OsHA itself are unaware of these restrictions on OsHA's jurisdiction. First, OsHA regulations apply to employers. section Three of the OsH Act defines "employer" as "a person engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees, but does not include ... any state or political subdivision of a state." In other words, OsHA has no jurisdiction over natural gas utility workplaces that are owned and operated by entities that are subdivisions of a state. second, section Four of the OsH Act provides that "nothing in this Act shall apply to working conditions of employees with respect to which other Federal agencies ... exercise statutory authority to prescribe or enforce standards or regulations affecting occupational safety or health." On four occasions OsHA has recognized that pipeline safety regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous materials safety Administration (PHmsA) address the ©iStockphoto.com/filmfoto By John erickson same working conditions as certain OsHA rules or parts of OsHA rules. These four areas are: 1. excavation (29 CFr 1926.651(g)(1)(iii) flammable gas provisions and (g)(2)(i) rescue equipment); 2. Process safety management (29 CFr 1910.119); 3. Confined space entry (29 CFr 1910.146); and, 4. respiratory protection (29 CFr 1910.134). state agencies that regulate workplace safety and health programs may, however, include subdivisions of states under their jurisdiction. In fact, in order for a state agency to be approved by the u.s. Department of Labor, that state agency must cover state and local government workers. These state programs may or may not include a provision similar to section Four of the federal OsH Act preempting application of state OsHA jurisdiction in the four areas listed above. even if federal or state OsHA regulations do not apply to a public natural gas system, utilities should adopt policies and procedures to protect the safety of its employees. OsHA regulations are a good place to start as these rules identify the various threats to worker safety and describe best practices for reducing those threats. APGA members can also review APGA's Natural Gas safety Handbook for utility Workers and Contractors, which can be downloaded for free at www.apga.org/ resources. This manual includes general worker safety provisions as well as threats to worker safety that are unique to natural gas utilities. John Erickson is Vice President of Operations for APGA. OSHA-approved state programs As of this writing, the following have OsHA-approved state programs Alaska Arizona California Connecticut Hawaii Illinois Indiana 26 THE SOURCE | THE vOICE and CHOICE Of pUblIC gaS Iowa Kentucky maryland michigan minnesota Nevada New Jersey New mexico New York North Carolina Oregon Puerto rico south Carolina Tennessee utah Vermont Virgin Islands Virginia Washington Wyoming http://www.iStockphoto.com/filmfoto http://www.apga.org/resources

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Summer 2015

Problem Solving
First Person
APGA Events
Q&A with Chairman Bay
Natural Gas: The Fuel of Choice
Volatile Oil Prices
Home-Based Reporting
The Learning Curve
What Is Net Zero?
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
Advertisers’ Index/ Advertiser.com
At Last

THE SOURCE - Summer 2015

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