One of the difficult things about being an engineer (…besides everything you’ve just thought of…) is being able to recognise your own competency.
Knowing your own competency is essential, especially in high-risk industries like pipelines and other potentially hazardous industries. Similarly, knowing the competency of the others around you is essential too.
Not often contemplated is that there are two kinds of competencies: knowledge, and behavioural competencies.
A person can be very competent in knowledge, but behave terribly: unethically and without principles. That makes the knowledge, while useful, perhaps less value. On the other hand, you can have an ethical, principled person who keeps making mistakes. Neither is a good situation.
The contents of pipelines are, more often than not, flowing under pressure. A factor in the design and operation of pipelines, is whether it is designed to operate at “high” pressure or “low” pressure. The lines into our houses operate at a very low pressure. The cross-country transmission lines flow at a high pressure.
Those of us who work with pipelines are also, often, under pressure. Sometimes low pressure, and sometimes high pressure. There are budgets, schedules, compliance, and safety issues to face.
It’s a pressure we are proud to bear: we are serving society and responding to customer needs. But often we’re faced with difficult situation and scenarios, that test our principles, test our ability to handle the pressure.
There’s now a reference resource to help. The Australian Pipeline and Gas Association (APGA), in conjunction with the Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre (FFCRC), have published a guidance document to help with the scenarios we face. It was put together by a group of industry leaders – many of whom are part of this AS2885.info wiki and blog.
The publication can be found here: Public Safety in the Pipeline Industry: Engineering Practice Guide.