Following the death of two workers servicing a natural gas pipeline in 2004, OSHA released a report underlining the potential dangers associated with this type of work. Additionally, OSHA suggested a series of guidelines, safe work practices, and training specifically aimed at reducing the occurrence of hazards such as unexpected pipe separation resulting in injury or fatality.
De-watering a pipeline requires the connection of a temporary line to the main pipe, which must be securely fastened with mechanical couplers. Because the de-watering process involves extremely high volumes of compressed air, as well as significant variations in pressure, it can cause surges, pipe failure, and mechanical stress. The dangers can be compounded by insufficient anchoring and worn couplers. For this reason, OSHA recommends that pipeline operators complete hydrostatic testing, follow all safety guidelines, and ensure that employees have received thorough training according to OHSA standards.