Underground Construction - July 2019 - 25

past several years, and industry is responding to calls to embrace SMS in pipeline
operations and construction. A panel of representatives consisting of a DCA contractor,
the AGA point person on SMS and representatives of ENERGY worldnet provided a
thorough discussion of this subject.
SMS is often misunderstood as to what
it is, what it isn't, what is required and how
to get started. Instead of a typical presentation on SMS, this panel provided perspective from a contractor in the process of
implementing SMS, AGA's insight on how
LDCs are moving toward the cyclical SMS
approach, and what can be expected from
federal and state regulators in terms of voluntary transition, versus policy mandating
SMS in the pipeline industry.
While PHMSA has reiterated that the
agency has no immediate plans to regulate
SMS, it's clear that there is "encouragement" of adopting SMS and many in the
industry are preparing for possible mandates. Therefore, associations representing
pipeline contractors have embraced the
American Petroleum Institute's (API)
Recommended Practice 1173. AGA has
nine working committees looking at SMS
and effective approaches to implementing
a culture of safety in LDC operations.
Some contractors recognize that
they must catch up with operators in
terms of SMS implementation, and that

maintaining elaborate safety programs
is not equivalent to having SMS in place.
However, the concept of buy-in from senior
management is already in place with most
contracting companies. Data is needed and
conducting a gap analysis will facilitate a
transition to SMS, but many SMS concepts
are already embraced by gas distribution
contractors. Gap analyses comparing
existing safety operations to maintaining
and SMS, as well as further understanding
of the "plan-do-check-act" process will help
the contracting community move toward
implementation of SMS.
A representative of ENERGY worldnet,
who previously served as chair of the
National Association of Pipeline Safety
Representatives (NAPSR), provided valuable insight about what may be expected
from state pipeline inspectors. While
NAPSR does not currently have a position
on SMS, there is a wide range of opinions
on the subject in states across the country,
and some inspectors are pushing SMS
concepts in enforcement actions.
The Merrimack Valley incident will
likely drive SMS implementation in the
gas distribution industry, and there
is already legislation introduced by
Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth
Warren of Massachusetts that would
mandate SMS concepts in the next pipeline
safety reauthorization process. In addition,

the DOT's Office of Inspector General is
now moving toward ensuring that PHMSA
includes a "safety culture" in its own
operations, further highlighting pressure
on PHMSA to focus of SMS.
The concept of maintaining an open-door
policy for allowing contractors to point out
safety issues was reiterated, and the true
fundamentals of needing buy-in from senior
management and striving for continuous
improvement were main themes covered
by this panel. Additionally, DCA is in the
process of developing a template for contractors to reference when implementing
or improving existing SMS programs. The
template is being reviewed and feedback
is being collected by two other leading
associations in the pipeline construction
industry. The goal is to gain approval by contractor groups, and present the template to
government and industry organizations to
demonstrate that the pipeline construction
industry embraces SMS concepts.

Broadband and
damage prevention
As policymakers in Washington continue to
talk about the need for an "infrastructure
package," the issue of broadband deployment, especially in rural areas, is continually brought up early in the discussion.
Broadband providers across the country are
increasingly initiating projects, and federal

A large audience of contractors and utilities once again attend the workshop.
UConOnline.com | JULY 2019

25


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Underground Construction - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underground Construction - July 2019

Contents
Underground Construction - July 2019 - FC
Underground Construction - July 2019 - IFC
Underground Construction - July 2019 - Contents
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 4
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 5
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 6
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 7
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 8
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 9
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 10
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 11
Underground Construction - July 2019 - 12
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Underground Construction - July 2019 - 20
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Underground Construction - July 2019 - 50
Underground Construction - July 2019 - IBC
Underground Construction - July 2019 - BC
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