Newsbrief Archive

Natural Gas Currents News - November 2013

The Messaging Challenges of RP 1162

As a natural gas utility, you face many challenges. While customer needs and shareholder demands come to mind, you must also promote safety, prevent accidents, protect lives, safeguard your infrastructure, and protect your business. Recommended Practices 1162 (RP 1162), developed by gas and hazardous materials pipeline operators in response to the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, embodies these requirements and can present many challenges.

In accordance with RP 1162, natural gas utilities must develop distinctive pipeline public awareness programs (PPAP) around their infrastructure aimed at specific audiences within the communities served. The cornerstone of these efforts is educational material designed to reach and affect important audiences. Developing the right language, communicating the right message, and utilizing the right media to help audiences engage, comprehend, and recall information, are all vitally important to the success of PPAPs or any educational outreach effort.

A Comprehensive Approach Towards Changing Behaviors

The key to developing effective materials is to draw upon specific disciplines, like instructional design, user experience design (UXD), and other educational, training, and marketing principles, as well as solid industry research and experience.  This comprehensive approach helps ensure that you address key natural gas messages, use audience-appropriate language, and reference content that works in concert with visuals.  Furthermore, it helps to eliminate factors that can hinder effectiveness, such as confusing industry jargon, biases or filters, personal knowledge or experience that can restrict thinking and limit options, and viewpoints that can confine goals.

For these reasons, Culver’s Content Team utilizes an assessment matrix to evaluate messaging, ensure quality, and build fortified materials. This tool ensures that critical baseline messaging for every audience identified by RP 1162, such as Affected Publics, Local Public Officials, and Excavators, is met. It also helps ensure that important supplemental messaging is included—messaging that goes beyond compliance and has proven to help change behavior. This results in a public that’s not only aware of natural gas hazards, but one that also knows how to identify and respond to incidents—keeping themselves and others safe.


The End-User “Results” Perspective for Continuous Improvement

As with any communication, it’s important to always keep the receiver in mind. What does that mean from a design and user experience standpoint?  It means considering learning styles, work environments, modes of communication, and what barriers might exist. Factors like these help inform design and deliver a greater impact. For instance, in a printed booklet or mailer, factors may include everything from font size, step-by-step instructions, and illustrative graphics, to page composition, booklet format, and paper stock. Deliberate and informed decisions surrounding these elements and strategic use of design, construction, composition, and juxtaposition can make a difference in whether information is read or discarded, remembered or forgotten.

Furthermore, regular testing and research are key to continuous improvement when it comes to materials and their impact. Case in point, in 2012, Culver’s Content Team conducted 900 in-depth interviews with at-risk, third-party contractors in the United States who received our utility safety outreach materials. These contractors were in businesses defined as the highest-risk Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes for natural gas utility-related incidents. The study examined key indicators like the number of workers who read the information, total time spent with materials, recall rates, the number of individuals who will change their behavior on the job as a result of the information, the penetration rate within the total at-risk worker population, and valuable qualitative data surrounding these measurements. With results that were statistically projectable over the entire population of 2.2 million SIC high-risk businesses, the study offered an industry-wide view that forced improvements.


Satisfying Regulators, Insurers, and Other Stakeholders

In order to help meet business objectives and satisfy regulators, insurers, litigators, and other stakeholders, it’s important to make sure that educational materials—as a part of any public safety outreach or RP 1162 PPAP—contain the right elements grounded in solid design, research, and testing. Whether you rely on one of Culver’s turnkey solutions—Worker Beware Digging and Excavating Brochures or Videos, Scratch and Sniff Safety Cards, Natural Gas Safety at Home Brochures or the Natural Gas Safety Wheels—or custom program materials developed in concert with our Strategic Services Group as a part of a comprehensive PPAP, all Culver materials include key RP 1162 information for compliance and optimal results.


About Culver's Products Group and Strategic Services Group

Culver Company’s Products Group is uniquely qualified in the area of RP 1162 material development. We employ experts in instructional, multimedia, and UX design, and draw upon decades of experience steeped in publishing, education, communications, and the utility industry. The Culver Products Group consists of our Content Team, Creative Services Department, and Educational and Utility Experts. We develop both turnkey RP 1162-aligned materials and custom program materials for RP 1162 PPAPs, including booklets, brochures, mailers, websites, electronic media, and video, supported by research, testing, and results.

Culver’s Strategic Services Group works with natural gas utilities and offers a broad range of comprehensive strategic services that help utilities create sustainable, prevention-based, public safety outreach programs—programs that save lives, mitigate risk, satisfy regulatory requirements, and enhance the value of utility services for all stakeholders. Our strategic services and public safety model are supported by industry research, field testing, regulatory reviews, and risk and insurance professionals. Specific PPAP services include identifying stakeholders; building comprehensive databases; disseminating public awareness information; documenting results; and demonstrating impacts, measuring effectiveness, supporting audits, and providing ongoing improvement.

For more information about natural gas safety products visit our online product catalog, email us at, or call us at 800-428-5837.

For more information about RP 1162, visit our website, and for details about natural gas safety and RP 1162-related programs and services, contact our Strategic Services Group by email at or call 800-428-5837.