Team Training Requirement: 3 Ways to Get Support from Other Departments

During this year’s SGA Operating Conference & Expo, one of the big topics of discussion was the latest PHMSA team training requirement to support the control room.

Many of the discussions centered on needing support from other departments, especially in the area of emergency response, when implementing training.

The concern for control room managers is that it’s difficult to get other departments on-board with team training, especially if they do not see the value in supporting the control room. Or, they do not regularly interact with controllers and therefore do not see a reason why they need to be cross-trained on their functions. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to get support from other departments.

How Do I Get Everyone Onboard for Team Training?

If you have struggled to get your entire operation onboard with team training or are just now starting to implement training in anticipation of the January 2019 deadline, then consider these methods to achieve effective team training.

1. Point to the Bigger Picture of Team Training

On a recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast, 50-year industry veteran and team training expert Charles Alday made an astute observation about how to get other departments onboard with team training.

Mr. Alday noted that many non-technical personnel do not see how their role directly influences the controller’s ability to perform very technical actions linked to the success or failure of the pipeline. However, after going through the team training course, they suddenly have a new appreciation for how critical their role is to support operations, especially during emergency situations.

“One of the biggest issues that companies have struggled with is, who are these people that collaborate with controllers during normal, abnormal, and emergency situations? Frankly, a lot of companies try to minimize the number of people who are included in the training so they don’t have a lot of people away from their normal work duties,” Mr. Alday said.

“I say that if you look at the people who interact with controllers, certainly there’s supervisors and managers. In a lot of control rooms, they have technical advisers, leak detection analysts, schedulers who might affect the controller’s normal work, SCADA personnel, and field personnel… All of these people in all of these groups need to have a knowledge of these non-technical skills.”

2. Use Real Examples that Convey the Value of Team Training

An example of poor team training is only relying on computer-based training (CBT) for other departments. You might be tempted to merely recommend that other departments complete a computer training course by January 2019 to check the box for compliance.

However, CBT is not sufficient, not only for the PHMSA requirement but also for practical reasons to achieve actual understanding. PHMSA makes a significant recommendation for the effective means of training personnel from other departments:

“Exercises should present realistic scenarios and situations sufficiently complex to challenge the team’s collective decision-making skills. Exercises should include lessons learned from the operator’s actual events, and should consider applicable events that have occurred at other oil and gas industry facilities.”

A proven method of learning is to “learn by doing.” When you present real examples with real illustrations, it brings the information to life for everyone from experienced controllers to field operators who have never seen the inside of a control room.

Charles Alday can speak from experience on the importance of conveying the value of team training through various teaching methods: “At the beginning of our courses, people say, ‘Oh, I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t ever interact with controllers.’ We use a lot of videos, assessments, discussions, and things like that. We find at the end of the day that the majority of the people then see the value in it. They see how it can be applied not only to their job, but also in their lives.”

3. Make Team Training Fun and Competitive

Gamification is a growing trend in training. It’s a fun, competitive way to get technical and non-technical personnel together to build leadership and project management skills while also learning about real-life pipeline events.

On the Pipeliners Podcast, Charles Alday relayed his experience successfully implementing gaming methods to build understanding and knowledge:

“I’ve used this exercise a time or two myself. It works well to help people in a fun way practice some of these non-technical skills.

“If you take that, and then if you come up with an exercise that involves a pipeline situation as part of your training, you’ve done two different things. You’ve done it in a gamification kind of way, and you’ve also done it in a real way that relates to a pipeline accident. We’ve developed some case studies based on some of these pipeline accidents that we use in training.”

Get the Support You Need Before January 2019

When you set out to achieve the team training requirement for your operation, focus on the big picture, convey the value of the training, and consider a gaming environment to bring everyone together in a compelling learning environment.

If you need support conveying the right message to other departments, we are available to consult with your operation. Along with the software solutions we provide to operators, we leverage our industry knowledge through our consulting capabilities.

The EnerSys team collaborates with industry leaders to understand best practices and determine how pipeline operators can effectively implement these practices to fit their needs. We share this knowledge with pipeline operators to establish procedures and utilize tools to reliably and safely operate a pipeline control room.

To have a conversation about how to meet the team training requirement in your operation, please complete our contact form, email our team at, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.