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In addition, both management and workers were not appropriately aware of control measures that were supposedly designed for implementation by Company XYZ to prevent any accidents regarding pipelines. From the perception of managers, there were supposedly engineering, administrative, and managerial controls that should have been set in place. Yet, no control measures were ever communicated, documented, nor duly understood by the workers. Finally, although there was apparent visual inspection undertaken by supervisors or managers upon reports made by the workers, no documentation, nor concrete action to address the suspicion had apparently been reported to be undertaken so far.
Overall, the responses to the research questions are as follows:
What are the regulations and standards associated with pipelines?
What are the procedures that are associated with the inspection of pipelines containing flammable material?
The procedures for the inspection of pipelines containing flammable materials are stipulated by the following agencies, to wit: the National Board Inspection Code (NBIC), the PHMSA regulation published in KellerOnline, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) (2002). The detailed scope of the inspection standards and guidelines set by these regulatory agencies confirm the presence of these procedures for compliance of organizations like Company XYZ.
What is the level of employees’ awareness of the relevant standards in Company XYZ?
The level of employees’ awareness of the relevant standards in Company XYZ is relatively poor.
What is the understanding level that the management in the Company XYZ has toward appropriate safety inspection procedures associated with pipelines?
The level of understanding that the management in Company XYZ has toward appropriate safety inspection procedures associated with pipelines is also relatively poor.
After analyzing the results, the following recommendations are proposed to address the identified weaknesses:
Job Hazard Analysis. Consistent with the recommendations of OSHA to prevent accidents in work areas where pipelines are installed, the following actions are proposed:
Company XYZ should conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA) to specifically identify and classify risk areas.
Results from the JHA would reveal high risk areas and propose control measures which are applicable to pipelines.
Strategies are to be developed to prevent ignition, explosion, or fire-related incidents in pipelines which could potentially occur (OSHA, 2012).
Safety Standards pertaining to Pipelines. Company XYZ should explicitly develop and incorporate safety standards relative to pipelines, including inspection, maintenance, and documentation of incidents.
Based on best practices, employees who are directly involved in the repair, maintenance, or support of responsibilities where pipelines are installed, should participate in the development of safety standards pertinent to pipelines.
The standards proposed by various regulatory agencies must be reviewed, evaluated, and incorporated in Company XYZ’s safety policies and procedures.
These safety standards pertaining to pipelines are to be documented, affirmed, and communicated to all employees of Company XYZ.
The standards are to be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that updates from regulatory agencies, such as OSHA, American Petroleum Institute, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the ISO standard (ISO 15589-2:2012), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), are duly incorporated.
Control Measures. The proposed control measures which have been reported from the JHA, as well as those recommended by regulatory agencies need to be explicitly designed, communicated, and implemented.
Engineering controls should be developed and implemented, specifically, the proposed standard for using electrical tools in areas where pipelines are installed. Accordingly, under the standard number 1926.403(a) provided by OSHA for electrical tools, in order to prevent fires and explosions in the pipeline areas, electrical tools and equipment should be appropriately approved by OSHA to determine their safety and conformity to standards (OSHA, 2005).
Follow and adhere to proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), to wit: “eye and hearing protection, safety boots, gloves and hard hats should always be worn on pipeline job sites”, must be observed to be used as needed. One of the most recommended PPEs by OSHA for workers exposed in flash-fire hazards is the flame resistant clothing (FRC) which would insulate workers from burns, smoke, or thermal radiation (OSHA, n.d.f).
Administrative and managerial controls should likewise be developed and communicated to the workers. As proposed by OSHA, a hot work permitting program should first be sought for approval prior to work that could cause ignition or fire where pipelines are installed (OSHA, 2012). Reporting protocols of high risk areas or suspicion of leakages, spillage, corrosion, or emission of flammable or hazardous chemicals should be clear and strictly documented and enforced.
Training. As emphasized, one of the most relevant measures to ensure that workers have developed skills and competencies to adhere to safety standards is training.
Training entails communicating all the safety standards and policies during orientation (at entry point) and regularly, especially when pertinent standards are updated.
Training also includes communicating the risk areas, control measures, effective use of PPEs, as well as the manner for reporting and documenting incidences related to risks and safety in areas where pipelines are installed.
Finally, conducting training programs should solicit the level of awareness of the workers to determine whether all crucial information pertinent to safety and risks in areas where pipelines are installed have been comprehensively understood.
The current study is constrained by limitations in time and resources. For one, the sample size for conducting interviews to solicit information regarding safety in areas where pipelines are installed was significantly small. In addition, the methodology utilized the interview method which is deemed to be the most viable source of soliciting the needed data from the six (6) personnel. For future studies, the research method could be replicated but using a larger sample size and a more investigative data collection method. Instead of using the interview questions, a survey questionnaire with structured list of potential responses could be used to facilitate respondents in providing the needed answers. Likewise, it would be more plausible to seek responses from inspectors coming from regulatory agencies, such as OSHA, to determine their professional perspectives on the organization’s level of awareness and understanding of standards pertinent to pipelines.
In retrospect, there have been supported discourses acknowledging the risks and hazards in work areas where pipelines are installed. The apparent lack of pipeline inspections evidently creates the potential for fire and explosion hazards, which could lead to losses of property, lives of the personnel, as well as other organizational resources and assets. As explicitly indicated, the purpose of the study was to determine Company XYZ’s management and employees’ perceptions pertaining to safety processes associated with pipeline inspections as well as the regulations that should be applied to the pipelines operations. From the review of related literature on the subject, in conjunction with results of the interview with members of the management and workers assigned in areas where pipelines are installed, the following conclusions are hereby highlighted:
The level of understanding and awareness for safety standards pertaining to pipelines among management and workers should be consistent for these standards to be deemed effective.
Management should be committed in communicating knowledge and awareness of standards and control measures, as proposed by various regulatory agencies, to all workers directly involved in pipeline activities to prevent accidents, injuries, or illnesses.
The collaborative efforts of management and workers are crucial to ensure that appropriate risks and hazards are duly identified and addressed, as well as safety standards in identifying risks, performing inspections, and monitoring sustained safety, are effectively promoted in the work setting.