Safety and health bulletin focuses on pipeline safety

August 10, 2004

Preventing fatal accidents or injuries for workers involved in dewatering pipelines is the subject of a new Safety and Health Information Bulletin issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The bulletin was developed in association with the Research and Special Programs Administration's (RSPA) Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Pipeline dewatering is a process conducted following pipeline construction. The bulletin was designed to highlight potential hazards associated with the operations and to focus on work practices that will reduce the potential for unexpected separation of temporary dewatering pipes.

OSHA's area offices in Allentown and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., recently investigated two fatalities that occurred when the workers were struck by temporary dewatering piping that was not properly anchored and, due to excessive air pressure, eventually broke loose from its coupling.

The bulletin provides detailed background information on the procedures involved in ensuring the integrity of installed pipelines and reemphasizes OPS regulations on pipeline safety. A section of the bulletin describes hazards focusing on insufficient anchoring, worn couplings, excessive air pressure, and lack or training.

OSHA and OPS developed the bulletin to increase awareness of the hazards involved in pipeline dewatering and to encourage employers and workers to refocus their energies on ensuring proper procedures are followed during the process.