Protect your pipeline – don’t tell machine drivers where they are!
Instead, tell them that there is a high pressure gas pipeline on site, that you don’t know where it is, and that it has nothing to protect it – that will make them excavate with extra caution and care. That was an unusual finding from a human factors study conducted as part of a ‘Joint Industry Project’ led by DNV on ‘pipeline protection’.
Clearly, in reality, you wouldn’t withhold such information from drivers on the basis that it would make them do their job with extra caution (to do so would totally impractical), but it does underpin the importance of getting accurate information to drivers about a pipeline near where they are excavating – that information has a powerful influence on driver behaviour. When drawings, marker posts, and site surveys come up with opposing messages about where a pipeline is, drivers and supervisors need to investigate and approach the job on the basis that each piece of information is correct, until each location has been dug. This topic, and the wider human factors study, are discussed in the following article which was originally published in Gas International (Gi), the journal of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM).