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U.S. Tells Pipeline Owners to Rein in Cell Use

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is urging pipeline owners and operators to restrict employee use of cellular telephones, mobile computers or  other personal electronics while on the job.

The agency has issued an Advisory Bulletin to remind owners and operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities of the risks associated with workers using personal electronic devices (PEDs) while performing operations and maintenance activities on a pipeline facility.

The Advisory Bulletin was published Tuesday (Aug. 3, 2010) in the Federal Register (Volume 75, Number 148).

The action follows similar rules and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is leading a national effort against distracted driving and related risks. Railroad employees' use of PEDs was restricted in May.

“PHMSA recognizes that the use of PEDs by pipeline employees who are performing operations and maintenance activities may pose a similar risk to safety if those individuals are distracted, especially when such use is for personal business,” the bulletin said.

Owners and operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities should integrate a PED policy into their required written safety procedures, the agency said.

“There may be increased risks associated with the use of PEDs by personnel performing pipeline activities affecting operation or integrity,” PHMSA said.

“Pipeline operations and maintenance tasks require a critical level of attention and skill, which may be compromised by visual, manual, or cognitive distractions caused by the use of PEDs.

“Such distractions may also hinder their prompt recognition and reaction to abnormal operating conditions and emergencies.”

The agency said it was not trying to discourage the use of PEDs for normal business operations.

For more information, contact Cameron Satterthwaite at 202-366-1319 or cameron.satterthwaite@dot.gov.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Health and safety; Pipeline

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