New Regulations Drive Expanded SCADA Curriculum

By Russel Treat & Artis Bartle | September 2009 Vol. 236 No. 9
Buyer's Guide

Control Room Management
The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has proposed new regulations designed to enhance safety by requiring operators of pipeline and LNG facilities to implement new control-room management procedures. PHMSA recognizes the importance of controllers and their role in preventing and reducing risk to pipeline safety. In 2006, Congress enacted the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act (PIPES Act), directing PHMSA to issue regulations requiring each operator of a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline to develop, implement and submit management plans designed to reduce risks associated with human factors in the control room.

Familiarity with the proposed regulations is an essential part of any fundamental SCADA training. Essential topics include the following categories and items:

  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are required to clearly define and document the roles and responsibilities of controllers to ensure prompt and appropriate response to abnormal operating conditions and emergencies.
  • Shift changes and information-sharing SOPs or processes should be developed to ensure controllers receive the timely and necessary information required for them to fulfill their responsibilities at all times.
  • Change management processes are required to establish thorough and frequent communications between controllers, management, and field personnel when planning and implementing physical changes to pipeline equipment and SCADA configurations, such as alarm modifications.
  • Learning from operator experiences requires all operators to review all reportable accidents and incidents on a routine basis to identify and correct deficiencies related to controller fatigue, field equipment, procedures, SCADA system configuration, SCADA performance and communications.
  • Operators should be required to provide controllers training necessary to completely understand the pipeline and control systems they operate.
  • Operators should be required to adopt additional qualification measures to measure or verify a controller’s performance, including prompt detection of, and appropriate response to, abnormal and emergency conditions that are likely to occur.

A senior executive officer should be required to sign a validation each calendar year that confirms certain aspects of the operator’s controller training, qualification and compliance with regulatory guidelines.


  • SCADA systems with pipeline operators would be required to follow American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice 1165, which addresses SCADA displays.
  • SCADA systems must also have a backup communication system, or alternatively, operators must have adequate means to operate manually or have provisions to shut down the affected portion of pipeline safely.
  • Existing SCADA system operators will be required to conduct an initial point-to-point baseline verification for each SCADA system to validate and document that field equipment configurations agree with computer displays.

Fatigue Management
Methods should be implemented to prevent controller fatigue that could inhibit the controller’s ability to carry out defined roles and responsibilities