On February 27, 2014, PHMSA hosted a day-long public workshop on Safety Management Systems (SMS).  The workshop coincided with the public release of draft industry standard API RP 1173 for Pipeline Safety Management Systems, which is currently under development (as explained in a previous post).  The public had an opportunity to hear from members of the American Petroleum Institute Committee developing the standard, as well as from representatives of other industries that have implemented both voluntary and mandatory SMS standards.  Presenters also discussed various aspects of a successful SMS, such as the roles of leadership and management, the role of safety assurances, and the development of a safety culture.

The development of API RP 1173 is a cooperative effort among pipeline companies, regulatory agencies, the public, and industry trade groups.  Its purpose is to provide pipeline operators a framework for developing a holistic, process-oriented approach to safety, with an emphasis on continual assessment and improvement.  The standard contains 10 essential elements, including Leadership and Management Commitment, Stakeholder Engagement, Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Documentation and Record-Keeping.  It is based upon a “plan-do-check-act” cycle, whereby operators plan to achieve particular results in accordance with organizational policies and goals and, after execution, review and analyze their results as a basis for continual improvement.  PHMSA has not stated whether it will propose mandatory compliance with the standard.

The public is invited to read and comment upon the draft standard before April 11, 2014.  More information can be found here.