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OPERATOR QUALIFICATION UNDERSTANDING OPERATOR QUALIFICATION PROGRAM COMPLIANCE

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January 12, 2004

The United States Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) held the opinion that actions of personnel operating and maintaining pipelines and pipeline facilities was a significant contributing factor to pipeline accidents. While accident reporting criteria established by OPS did not clearly indicate that personnel error was a major cause of accidents, there was a common belief that personnel actions were likely a factor in almost all accidents. The regulatory community held that personnel actions contributing to an accident could fall into two basic categories: 1) accidents caused immediately by incorrectly performing a task. Closing a valve which leads to overpressure and a rupture is an example of this category, and 2) accidents caused by personnel’s failure to recognize a condition and/or perform a task correctly. An example of this action might be that cathodic readings were taken improperly and active corrosion was allowed to persist which led to eventual failure of the pipeline

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