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Control Room Hours-of-Service

The fatigue mitigation section of the control room management regulations through §§ 195.446 (d)(4) & 192.631 (d)(4) allow for an emergency deviation from the maximum limit on controller hours-of-service, if necessary, for the safe operation of a pipeline facility. Operators do not need to notify PHMSA if any of their controllers exceed their hours-of-service, but operators must maintain documentation related to the deviation. If there are any additional risks associated with controller fatigue because of the deviation, the additional risks must also be addressed as part of the process and the operator's fatigue mitigation program. Examples of addressing additional risks associated with controller fatigue could be the use of additional fatigue countermeasures. Under extraordinary conditions associated with emergency situations and significant events, controller fatigue and accompanying distraction are highly likely. As a result, operators should implement all fatigue countermeasures available to them until operations can return to normal.

The following Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) on PHMSA's Control Room Management (CRM) website describes PHMSA's expectations for emergency deviations. PHMSA's CRM website provides additional FAQs and other guidance for fatigue countermeasures and fatigue mitigation in general.

D.13 What are PHMSA's expectations for emergency deviations from the maximum limit on controller hours of service?

The regulation requires operators to maintain documentation that demonstrates any deviation from the maximum limit on controller hours of service was necessary for the safe operation of the pipeline facility. Operators should plan for anticipated emergency deviations in advance and evaluate their potential for additional risks of controller fatigue. If additional risks exist as a result of any deviation, the operator would be expected to have or develop a corresponding plan to employ appropriate countermeasures, and demonstrate how those measures offset the additional risks. Frequent occurrence of the same type of deviation should prompt the operator to review policies and procedures to minimize their occurrence.

The operator has the flexibility to determine how best to demonstrate adequacy of deviation management through the structure and content of its processes and procedures. Many operators are implementing an exception review/approval process and form. Such a process should include analysis of events leading to the deviation, actions taken, as well as review following the deviation.

PHMSA encourages a process to take place with provisions for written approval in advance of anticipated deviations (PHMSA recognizes some deviations cannot be forecasted). For such a process and form, PHMSA would expect to see items such as:

  • Reason for exception (i.e. which portion(s) of the HOS schedule/procedures to be exceeded)
  • Why is the exception needed for the safe operation of a pipeline facility
  • Date and time work schedule will be impacted
  • Deviation will affect the following employee(s)
  • Work schedule before and after the exception
  • Any additional fatigue risks associated with the exception
  • Countermeasures to be employed to offset any additional risks for fatigue
  • Date, time and by whom the deviation is being reviewed/approved

PHMSA understands that unforeseen circumstances do occur which may make written approval in advance impractical. In such instances written documentation should be completed at the first practical moment after the event.
[§§ 192.631(d)(4) and 195.446(d)(4)]