API Releases Contractor Safety Tool

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Pipeline Safety Management Systems (SMS) Industry Team have long been committed to pipeline safety. In 2022, they released the Pipeline SMS: A Contractor’s Guide, which provides pipeline contractors and service providers a clear roadmap for integrating their safety programs with an operator’s Pipeline SMS.  

Although the Contractor’s Guide provides general guidance to API Recommended Practice 1173 (RP 1173), the sheer number of overall requirements can still make compliance a bit challenging. To provide  clarity and address the industry’s dynamic nature, API and the Pipeline SMS Industry Team have launched a proprietary tool on www.PipelineSMS.org. This free, cutting-edge tool complements the Contractor’s Guide, providing users with real-time insights, benchmarks, and feedback mechanisms that further assist them in gauging their implementation of the Guide’s numerous requirements.  

History of the Guide 

The release of the first edition of the Guide marked a significant milestone for industry progress towards full adoption of RP 1173. As a free complement to that 2015 document, the Guide distills RP 1173 and  its 234 requirements down to 56 key requirements where, depending on a contractor or service provider’s scope of work, operators can focus their collaboration efforts to ensure appropriate alignment with their pipeline SMS.


The Guide aims to align contractors, operators, and service providers in protecting workers, communities, and the environment. Both API and the Pipeline SMS Industry Team encourage contractors, service providers, and operators to use the Guide and begin discussions on the appropriate integration of safety programs relevant to pipeline SMS. 

Tooling With Success 

While the Guide streamlines RP 1173’s requirements, navigating them can still be challenging. Recognizing this, the Pipeline SMS Evaluation Tool not only complements the 74 but also offers a hands-on approach to its implementation. 

This tool represents a significant shift towards a more dynamic and collaborative approach to pipeline safety. While the Guide provides helpful explanations and details, the tool emphasizes real-time application and ongoing improvement, helping contractors effectively and efficiently manage the complexities of achieving pipeline safety. 

As the pipeline industry continues to evolve, the new Pipeline SMS tool is an important resource for helping contractors consistently align with safety standards. It is yet another milestone in the organizations’ efforts to promote pipeline safety.

Laurie Knape is the Program Manager of Pipeline SMS with the American Petroleum Institute (API) in Houston, Texas. In this role, Laurie manages the Pipeline SMS Third-Party Assessment Program. Prior to this role, Laurie worked as EHS Manager for both operators and contractors. Laurie holds the CSP, ASP, CLSC and QMS designations. 

To facilitate use of the new tool, API will be presenting at the Global Excavation Safety Conference in New Orleans, March 19-21, 2024. For more information and to register, visit GlobalExcavationSafetyConference.com. 

Laurie Knape


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