APGA has joined with the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre to produce Public Safety in the Pipeline Industry: an engineering practice guide.
The guide applies to engineers who work in design and operation of high-pressure energy pipelines and associated facilities, and to those who employ those engineers. Pipeline engineering is a profession and this means that pipeline engineers are bound together by much more than simply a common occupation. Professions are characterised by a collective body of knowledge, an education process, standards for admission to the profession, standards of conduct, a recognised status and collective values. One key value of the pipeline engineering profession is that public safety is paramount.
This document forms part of the pipeline engineering body of knowledge in support of that value. The content aims to support excellence in engineering practice (i.e. how work is done) when it comes to decisions, actions and behaviours that impact public safety. In particular, it seeks to support pipeline engineers’ ability to identify situations that can impact public safety and to analyse how public safety might be affected, so that the organisation can respond effectively.
The guide was developed by a number of highly experienced engineers as part of a Research Program of the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre. It includes real examples for discussion, as well as scenarios likely to face many engineers in the workplace. Engineers are encouraged to discuss the examples and scenarios with colleagues to help prepare effective processes and responses.
Public safety is particularly important for pipeline engineers because the organisations employing them are responsible for infrastructure that is often not isolated from the general public as is the case for some other kinds of industrial facilities. By their very nature and purpose, pipelines are required to exist within the community and not remote from the community. Pipeline infrastructure has the potential to impact members of the public who may be simply walking down the street or going about their everyday work.
The aim of this practice guide is to support pipeline engineers to act with professional responsibility when it comes to public safety, even in the face of pressures from other individuals, their own organisation, from contractors or from clients. Most organisations will wish to support their engineers in this and so the guide starts with a section that describes how organisations create an environment that encourages their employees to act with professional responsibility.
This practice guide also sets foundational principles for formal engineering management systems, recognising the importance of both informal and formal processes in fostering an outcome that meets best engineering practice and prioritises public safety outcomes. This document does not address technical issues but will influence the way in which technical issues are assessed and resolved by individuals and teams.
The principles set out in this Practice Guide are completely consistent with the requirement to reduce safety-related risks linked to identified threats to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable as set out in AS(/NZS) 2885. As the examples in this Practice Guide illustrate, many decisions made by pipeline engineers in their everyday professional practice have safety implications yet sit outside formal risk management frameworks. Taking professional responsibility is essential to achieve the best public safety outcomes, regardless of the technical context or specific process requirements.