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Friday, April 20, 2018
NiSource’s Innovative Training Centers, Methods Win Pipeline + Energy Expo Award
The mock neighborhood at a Columbia Gas training center, called “Safety Town," allows employees to practice in a safe, controlled environment and evaluate new equipment and emergency response procedures.

NiSource is on the leading edge in how we train and develop employees, helping prepare newer workers who will replace an increasingly veteran workforce and further modernizing safety techniques.

PennWell’s Pipeline + Energy Expo Awards recognized the new Columbia Gas training centers and updated training practices in its inaugural ceremony held this month in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

NiSource took top honors in the Innovative Product/Solution category, which was judged on ingenuity, scope, practicality, vision and follow-through.

“I’m thrilled that our peers recognize our dedication in training and continuous improvement,” said Mark Chepke, vice president of training. “Not only have we built four state-of-the-art training centers, we’ve revamped our entire training regimen to go along with it to create a culture of learning.”

We opened our first Columbia Gas field operations training center near Pittsburgh in 2016, and last year opened one each in Ohio and Virginia. Our final training center opened this year in Massachusetts.

Watch a video of the training center here.

The training centers feature entire mock neighborhoods complete with homes and businesses, where sounds mimic real-life – dogs barking, school children playing, etc. Coined “Safety Town,” NiSource trains employees on all facets of emergency response with an array of underground utilities, meters and regulators that instructors control to create different emergency scenarios and evaluate new equipment. From less-typical tasks like investigating the source of natural gas leaks to daily work including gas-line marking and re-establishing gas service, Safety Town is an innovative, hands-on way to help employees serve customers.

Outside the facilities, which are more than 20,000 square feet, are areas for excavator training, confined space training and fire safety simulation training. This allows Columbia Gas employees and first responders to train together to respond to different types of natural gas emergencies.

NiSource training moves beyond these improved classroom activities and provides greater support to employees in the field. Coaches and mobile technology are being used to further enhance on-the-job learning and to provide improved access to information through a Performance Support Tool.