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My company says I need OQ's (Operator Qualifications), what does that mean?

What are Operator Qualifications (OQ)?

Has your employer recently let you know that you need OQ's? Are you are wondering what that means and where to start? To understand OQ's, we must first look at what the responsibilities of a pipeline operator include.

What are the rules regarding OQ?

According to PHMSA's "OQ Rule", pipeline operators must ensure a qualified workforce on jurisdictional pipelines, and thereby, reduce the probability and consequence of pipeline incidents or accidents caused by human error. They are charged with developing an OQ program, then following the written OQ plan at their facilities and pipelines. In the plan, they establish a covered task list that is applicable to their specific systems.

Operators must define a set of training and qualification requirements for individuals who will be performing certain covered tasks on their pipelines and facilities. They determine which OQ providers that they accept that contractors must be qualified on (Veriforce, NCCER, EWN, ITS, OQSG, MEA, or eWebOQ). It is up to the pipeline operator to ensure that any hired contractors or vendors comply with the requirements laid out in their program before performing any work on their pipelines or facilities.  

Regulations regarding Operator Qualifications were developed by the Office of Pipeline Safety under the Department of Transportation in 992 under a mandate continuing through the Pipeline Safety Act. It was adopted into the Code of Federal Regulations under Subpart N in 49 CFR Part 192 and Subpart G in 49 CFR Part 195.

How do I become OQ qualified?

While this may be seem confusing and like a grueling task, getting qualified is easier than you might think. With the help of ASTAR, your employees can become OQ qualified quickly and easily. We make the process painless and ensure you stay on budget.

We can assist your company in building a company-specific OQ plan, ensuring the company is continually in compliance with the operator’s specific requirements, and manage your OQ evaluators to ensure that all evaluations are performed properly. If you do not have internal evaluators, we have evaluators throughout the US that can perform evaluations anytime, anywhere.

Throughout the qualification process, your company will also need to manage audit requests from both OQ service providers and clients, submit documentation that verifies OQ compliance at the request of the pipeline operators and check databases, such as, Veriforce and ISN for accuracy. We have the experience and tools available to manage your entire Operator Qualification program. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you.

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