Railroad Commission Successfully Leverages Online Training During Pandemic

November 02, 2020

AUSTIN – When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Railroad Commission quickly adapted to the upheaval and continued its critical mission to protect public safety and the environment.

RRC shifted important safety training online from the onset of the pandemic at a time when traveling to training sessions has become prohibitive.

In March, the agency’s Alternative Fuels Safety Department began continuing education classes for individuals in the Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry. Almost 50 of those webinars have occurred to date with more than 800 students attending online. This month, the department added initial training classes and online exams, utilizing online tools and webcams, for LPG dispenser operator safety training.

“The safety rules individuals are learning through our remote continuing education webinars and training is invaluable because they are responsible for handling propane in retail and commercial services and in recreational and residential settings,” said April Richardson, Alternative Fuels Safety Director. 

“Students have been providing feedback at the end of the online courses since the spring, which has helped us fine-tune our instruction as we kept adding classes.”

Other RRC divisions also leveraged online resources. The agency’s annual Regulatory Conference, which provides important updates and training to operators, was canceled because of COVID-19 but the RRC presented information industry operators through webinars. The webinars included sessions on a wide variety of topics from new online filings to oil and gas waste stream management and had more than 2,800 people attend or view.

In August, the agency’s Pipeline Safety Division had more than 700 people attend or view a webinar on new and amended rules concerning pipeline permits and pipeline safety regulations.

“The pandemic increased the urgency to adapt our operations to ensure our mission was not affected, and the web-based courses fit perfectly with our efforts. I am glad our agency was well-prepared and stepped up to the challenge,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Industry training plays a critical role in ensuring compliance of the Railroad Commission’s regulations, which in turn contributes to the safety of all Texans. We deployed these online resources expeditiously, which allowed us to be wherever operators are.”

An added benefit of many of the webinars is the fact that they have been archived for viewing. In case they missed it the first time, operators can view any previous Oil & Gas regulatory webinars here, and the August Pipeline Safety webinar here.

Also, information about Alternative Fuels training can be found via this page.

About the Railroad Commission:
Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov/about-us/.