Because the potential for risk is always present, we take a proactive approach to planning for emergencies such as natural disasters, security events, pandemics, releases, cyber attacks and other emergency situations.
Plains attracts a diverse safety workforce with a variety of skills and industry certifications, including Associate Safety Professional (ASP), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Occupational Safety & Health Technology (OSHT), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), and other training and certifications required by specific jobs.
Security Awareness Training
In addition to offering safety and emergency preparedness training to members of our workforce, every employee receives annual security awareness training, to ensure they are familiar with potential risks and how to protect against them. In addition, we undertake quarterly drills and annual exercises for regulated and critical facilities to ensure we are ready to respond to security threats or incidents.
The Information Security department at Plains maintains a cybersecurity strategy in an effort to uphold the confidentiality, integrity and availability of our information and technology systems, and keep our employees, assets and facilities safe. Our cybersecurity awareness training program—including bi-monthly computer-based trainings assigned to employees and regular information sharing—educates employees on current cybersecurity-related topics to ensure they are familiar with protecting against potential risks.
To prepare employees to respond in the event of an incident, our Cyber Incident Response Plan---developed and maintained in collaboration with Operations and Control Center personnel---provides instructions on responding, isolating and protecting our information systems in the event of a breach.
Technology is constantly evolving, so we frequently conduct risk assessments, update and strategy sessions to address security risk prevention. Quarterly security updates are shared with the Board of Directors to keep them abreast of the company’s cybersecurity efforts.
Hazard Recognition, Risk Assessment and Incident Investigation
All employees are encouraged to participate in our Hazard Recognition program, which is focused on recognizing and mitigating workplace hazards. We ask employees to report good catches and close calls, which can serve as leading indicators of such hazards. Our Incident Investigation team compiles submissions, reviews the information to uncover trends, and shares lessons learned across the organization on a monthly basis in an effort to promote safe work practices. While those efforts obviously cannot eliminate the possibility of accidents, they can assist in managing that risk. We utilize a pre-job planning process involving General Work Permits to identify hazards and to foster communication about the safety aspects of the work being performed. Training materials include hypothetical situations based on real events.
Our Operational Risk Management Program defines risk controls across common incident types. Events are regularly reviewed to identify trends and corrective actions, which could include updates to risk controls and/or lessons learned sharing.
Plains follows the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 1173's incident investigation requirements and conducts investigations on close calls and incidents. The investigation technique and participants are determined by our risk assessment matrix.
Industry-wide Preparedness Efforts
We strive to be an industry leader in emergency response. We actively participate on multiple emergency preparedness committees through trade associations, including the Association of Oil Pipelines, the American Petroleum Institute and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. Together, we develop standards, educate emergency responders and strengthen programs throughout the United States and Canada. Plains employees also participate on many Area Contingency Planning committees and other local community emergency preparedness committees across North America.
Plains engages employees, regulators, spill response organizations and contractors in more than 150 emergency response training exercises annually to test the effectiveness of our plans and procedures. We work closely with first responders in the communities where we operate to share information about our pipelines, terminals, trucking, rail and gas operations, and to enlist their assistance in reducing risks related to possible emergency situations. We develop relationships and provide education about our assets with community first responders, volunteer firefighters and members of the local Emergency Management Services organizations.
Plains Crisis Management Services
Plains is on a journey to zero incidents, injuries and impacts to the environment. In December 2015, the American Petroleum Institute (API) published Recommended Practice (RP) 1174: Onshore Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Emergency Preparedness and Response, to provide pipeline operators with a framework to create adaptive emergency planning and response processes, which includes the identification and mitigation of risks. Plains has publicly declared its commitment to API RP 1174 implementation efforts and the industry-wide goal to prioritize protection of human life and the environment.
Our Crisis Management Services (CMS) group is a team of dedicated emergency response professionals focused on providing employees with proper training, response strategies and other processes to effectively manage and mitigate emergency situations, should they arise. Our well-trained internal team works closely with contractors and members of the emergency response community to respond to emergency situations quickly and effectively. The CMS team ensures key employees throughout the company receive training on the Incident Command System so they understand, and can work effectively within, the Unified Command structure, alongside federal, state, provincial and local responders.
Plains takes very seriously our responsibility to safely and reliably transport energy. View the video below for a glimpse into our dedication towards emergency response.
Supplier Standards and Contractor Safety
We strive to conduct our operations in a manner that is safe for employees, contractors and the environment.
To foster a culture of safety from the onset of all work-related activities, we vet contractors during the procurement process using International Suppliers Network (ISNetworld), a system for logging and tracking vendors. Among other things, ISNetworld monitors contractor health and safety performance. In addition, the service agreements that guide Plains’ engagement with suppliers typically stipulate that these contractors must fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations pertaining to working conditions including:
- Workers’ compensation
- Social security
- Tax withholding
- Unemployment insurance
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- All other applicable federal, state and local laws, including those affecting employment, business opportunities and the environment.
The standard agreements further require contractors to assign an employee, agent or subcontractor at each applicable work location as the “Person in Charge” of the administration of safety requirements, including immediate reporting of all work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses and near misses.
Once engaged, contractors must adhere to the applicable provisions of our Contractor Safety Program, which articulates Plains’ safety expectations for contractors and sub-contractors.
To educate contractors on safety protocols that are specific to Plains, we host a Contractor Safety Summit annually. In 2019, more than 80 contractors from more than 40 companies participated in the summit.