ASME Publishes 3rd Edition of B31Q Standard for Pipeline Personnel Qualification
By Deb Haifleigh
Senior Compliance Specialist
Flint Hills Resources, L.P.
First published in 2006, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31Q Pipeline Personnel Qualification Standard outlines the requirements for the development and implementation of a Pipeline Personnel Qualification Program.
The goal for implementing B31Q is to minimize pipeline failures caused by human error. To this end, B31Q provides both general and specific requirements for three main areas:
- Identifying covered tasks that impact the safety or integrity of pipelines
- Qualifying workers to perform such tasks
- Managing the qualifications of pipeline personnel
When combined with ASME’s other B31 piping system codes, this standard becomes part of an overarching system of references that have become essential to those working on or around pipelines. The B31 codes detail industry best practices that help optimize costs, streamline operations and greatly improve safety standards. In addition, careful adherence to the codes will help workers and operations remain compliant with industry and jurisdictional regulations.
The third edition of the B31Q standard will be published this year. Discussions are underway to update the task standards in the future but it is not definite those updates will be finished in time for this publication. According to ASME, the key changes to the revision include the following:
- Clarification of qualification exemptions
- Inclusion of a reference on new technology and construction
- Addition of new tasks including on purging of hazardous liquids and flammable or inert gas
- Inserting and removing internal cleaning devices for pipeline systems.
The Pipeline Safety Act of 2012 established that new Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations can only be incorporated by reference if they are made publicly viewable and free of charge on a website. Today, ASME charges a fee for viewing their standards. While ASME is actively working to address this issue, the result of the conflict is that B31Q is not recognized as an official DOT regulation.
Suggestions for the improvement of this standard are welcome and should be sent to the below address:
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Secretary, B31 Main Committee
Three Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016-5990
Deb Haifleigh is a Senior Compliance Specialist for Flint Hills Resources, L.P., a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc. Her responsibilities include building compliance systems for pipeline safety regulations. Ms. Haifleigh has been employed with Koch for 31 years and held a variety of positions handling issues regarding pipelines, trucking, transportation, crude oil purchasing and agriculture. Deb is a member of the ASME B31Q committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in consumer economics from Kansas State University, as well as a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Kansas.