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Thread: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Question HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Do all you Viners have to take an Operator's Qualification (OQ) test to mark your utility's gas lines?

    We do here in MD, it's new, they just started it, 2 sections, first on locating theory and second on Gas meter Abnormal Operating Conditions (AOC's)
    About 120 questions.

    The test is VERY HARD.
    Especially the second part. AOC's as it does not directly relate to our primary job function and core competency as locators.

    We have 3 chances to take the test, passing is 80%.
    If we fail one section three times it is a mandatory termination.

    I don't know if the termination policy is from my locating company, UQ, the Gas Utility or PHMSA...
    What do you think?

    Some people have failed and been fired already, we're losing good experienced technicians because of this.

    This is not fair. We are not being given adequate time on the clock to study and
    the second test is not at all relevant to what we actually do in the field (Locating).

    I failed twice already. I've been here for 4 years and just earned a promotion. I'm not losing my job over this.

    Some people very smart but are just not good test takers.

    How can I effect a policy change in regards to the termination policy to management?

    Thanks Guys.
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Both states I locates in require it. You only take it once unless you get a gas damage then you need to take it again before you can locate gas again

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    Junior Member bloodyknuckles's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    We take it once a every year. If you have a damage or fail an audit you have to take it again. Our tests require 100% correct.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    All of the gas companies down here , ATMOS , CenterPoint Energy , ARK , and all P/L transmission contracts we have require us to test once a year !
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    ok thanks.
    What is your passing score?
    Do they fire people if they don't pass?

    I think firing experienced techs because of a test is counterproductive.
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Premium Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Fired? Assuming their nose is in the proper orifice they probably get promoted to management if they fail in the field.
    Last edited by daman1; October 19th, 2015 at 01:17 PM.
    yahoo likes this.

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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    The firing is coming from either the gas company or your company (I suspect gas company). The OQ part of the law only says they have to make a test, and it has to show people have adequate knowledge of AOCs and the tasks they're involved in. Doesn't give any restrictions on how to get to the point.

    I took my current OQ test at the beginning of the year. Believe it was 5 parts. AOCs was the hardest, but only because of how they worded the questions to try and trick you and it was the the longest/most detailed test. I think you could miss about 5-6 questions max in order to still pass each section (I think if you were below 80% you failed). They said we had 3 chances to pass, but we had 1 guy retaking the things all day to try and pass even though there was a very limited set of questions the test would pull from. That being said, we took the test in the comfort of our own company office (online), there was a slideshow over everything in the test beforehand, and it was open notes. I didn't even write notes and I was the 2nd person to finish without retaking any.

    I've never heard of being fired for failing OQ test. The locate companies I've been with considered it an annoyance and we just needed to get it done because it's required to work around gas. I've even been given a paper test and then they gave us all the answers so we got 100%.

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    Right Wing Conspirator GWJ_CAS's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Quote Originally Posted by mattm211 View Post
    .....I've never heard of being fired for failing OQ test. The locate companies I've been with considered it an annoyance and we just needed to get it done because it's required to work around gas. I've even been given a paper test and then they gave us all the answers so we got 100%.
    Really? What companies have you been with? As a Certified OQ Evaluator in more than 30 covered tasks, I am appalled that any company would treat OQ as an annoyance and downright irritated that a company would give its staff the answers to an OQ written test to ensure passing...I bet the gas company you were working for would love to know that!

    OQ is about KSA, Knowledge, Skills and Ability. As a line locator, you are most likely never going to need to know anything about Abnormal Operating Conditions. Being able to recognize and report a situation is what its all about. As a line locator, you may see segments of a system that are rarely seen by others and recognizing and reporting something as simple as dead vegetation over or around a gas facility could identify a leak or something that could turn into a much more serious situation.
    UULC, orangeboots, Mke and 1 others like this.

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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    We have to be MEA certified for locating ATMOS , & Centerpoint in TX, LA, and MS and we have many that have failed the certification.

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    Junior Member Aquaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Quote Originally Posted by GWJ_CAS View Post
    Really? What companies have you been with? As a Certified OQ Evaluator in more than 30 covered tasks, I am appalled that any company would treat OQ as an annoyance and downright irritated that a company would give its staff the answers to an OQ written test to ensure passing...I bet the gas company you were working for would love to know that!

    OQ is about KSA, Knowledge, Skills and Ability. As a line locator, you are most likely never going to need to know anything about Abnormal Operating Conditions. Being able to recognize and report a situation is what its all about. As a line locator, you may see segments of a system that are rarely seen by others and recognizing and reporting something as simple as dead vegetation over or around a gas facility could identify a leak or something that could turn into a much more serious situation.
    I agree!!! Study the text they give you and pay attention, everyone should pass. Part of the job.

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    Junior Member Herb's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    ONEOK/ONG requires OQ training to be able to locate for them. I went thru it about 10 years ago. We sat thru a full days class at a tech school, then had a practical app for locating and written tests for both locating and AOC's. I think we were allowed to use our materials on the tests, but not positive on that. I do remember the instructor walking around during the written tests and 'clearing up' the more vague questions.

    Everybody passed, except for one guy. He was a complete tool. He thought the best way to locate was from the cab of a backhoe, by 'feel'...
    Nb22x likes this.

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Herb View Post
    ONEOK/ONG requires OQ training to be able to locate for them. I went thru it about 10 years ago. We sat thru a full days class at a tech school, then had a practical app for locating and written tests for both locating and AOC's. I think we were allowed to use our materials on the tests, but not positive on that. I do remember the instructor walking around during the written tests and 'clearing up' the more vague questions.

    Everybody passed, except for one guy. He was a complete tool. He thought the best way to locate was from the cab of a backhoe, by 'feel'...
    LOL! "By feel" - Good one!
    How many times have you heard from excavators, "we found the primary.".... Cut wide open.

    But they're firing good locators over this irrelevant test.
    Techs who have been damage free for 4+ years and have good production.

    I don't get this management decision...
    Someone please explain...Thx.
    ????
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Right Wing Conspirator GWJ_CAS's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Nb22x View Post
    LOL! "By feel" - Good one!
    How many times have you heard from excavators, "we found the primary.".... Cut wide open.

    But they're firing good locators over this irrelevant test.
    Techs who have been damage free for 4+ years and have good production.

    I don't get this management decision...
    Someone please explain...Thx.
    ????
    It is actually a legal requirement of CFR 49 Parts 192 & 195 (since 1999), that specify that those working on or around liquid or natural gas facilities must be Operator Qualified (OQ) to recognize and react to Abnormal Operating Conditions. Each Operator establishes its own minimum criteria for demonstrating adherence to this regulation. Operator criteria may include various forms of testing (written or oral) along with a demonstration of skills (practical exam) associated with each "Covered Task". There are a number of covered tasks, but for the locator the most prevalent ones are AOC's (Abnormal Operating Conditions), Locate Line/Install Temporary Markings for Buried Pipeline, Locate Buried Facility with an Electromagnetic Device and maybe a couple of other covered tasks like Placing and Maintaining Temporary Line Markers and Observation of Excavation and Backfilling.

    If this is your industry, you should be at least somewhat aware of these rules and requirements and should certainly possess the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities to pass any associated qualification requirement. It truly is not as difficult as some make it seem. I am OQ Certified in thirty-five (35) Covered Tasks and a Certified Trainer & Evaluator in all those tasks for seventy-five (75) different pipeline and facility operators. It took some study, classroom time, a number of tests and a bunch of demonstrated hands-on experience, but it can be done.

    Here are some explanations straight from PHMSA's website:

    "In 1999, the Operator Qualification (OQ) final rule was issued, enhancing training requirements for pipeline operators. The rule, which was adopted into the Code of Federal Regulations under Subpart N in 49 CFR Part 192 and Subpart G in 49 CFR Part 195, requires pipeline operators to document that certain employees have been adequately trained to recognize and react to abnormal operating conditions that may occur while performing specific tasks."

    Abnormal Operating Condition (AOC)
    As defined in '192.803 and '195.503. [Note: To be qualified, an individual must be able to properly perform assigned covered task(s) and be able to recognize and react appropriately to any AOC that may (reasonably be expected to) be encountered while performing the covered task – whether the condition arises as a direct result of his/her work performance (e.g., be specific to the covered task being performed) or not (e.g., be generic in nature, but still observable because the individual is present on site).]

    Affects the Operation or Integrity of the Pipeline
    Any activity, or omission of an activity, that could directly or indirectly result in a hazard to persons, property or the environment. As used in the safety context of the OQ rule, the phrase indicates activities that could result in an abnormal operating condition that in turn could result in an unsafe operating condition.

    Evaluation
    As defined in '192.803 and '195.503. [Note: Any evaluation of an individual’s qualifications must follow an objective, consistent process that documents the individual’s ability to perform the covered task, including the ability to recognize and react to AOCs.]

    Evaluator
    Persons performing evaluations should possess the required knowledge (1) to ascertain an individual's ability to perform the covered tasks and (2) to substantiate an individual's ability to recognize and react to abnormal operating conditions that might surface while performing those activities. This does not necessarily mean that the person performing the evaluations should be physically able to perform the covered tasks themselves.

    Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)
    An appropriate combination of information (knowledge), craftsmanship (skills), and proficiency (ability or capability) that allows an individual to perform covered tasks in a competent manner.
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    Premium Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    It's a necessary evil that DOES give insight that helps you understand better how lines are run and what to expect. Lives are at stake with gas so the more you know about it, the better a locator you'll be.

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    Default Re: HELP! OQ Requirements and how to change company Policy

    I have been "O Q ed" twice for minor gas damages the way my sup explained it me is that it is just showing the gas company that they are doing something to prevent future issues . Plus in my opinion if you cant pass the test you shouldnt be locating gas in the 1st place.
    daman1 likes this.

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