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Columbia Gas of Ohio celebrates grand opening of innovative training center for local employees

Gahanna, OH – Columbia Gas of Ohio this week opened a modern, centralized training facility for employees who operate and maintain its natural gas distribution system.

The 28,000 square foot facility, located in Gahanna, OH near Columbus, features modern, innovative teaching environments designed to train new employees, employees transitioning into higher-skilled positions and for current employees enhancing their skills.  In addition to serving company employees, the center will be used for coordinated training with local emergency responders on responding to natural gas emergencies.  

“At Columbia Gas, we are furthering our commitment to become an industry leader in safety and training,” said Columbia Gas of Ohio President Dan Creekmur. “Building these new centers is one way we’re being responsive and evolving our safety and training. Our single-best asset is our workforce and this is an investment in their future.”

Hands on, Controlled Environments

One of the main features of the center is the outdoor “Emergency Response Safety Town” – a mock neighborhood of mini-homes and businesses complete with underground utilities and meters – where instructors can create and control various emergency training scenarios, including a natural gas leak simulation. Instructors will also use this area to teach other critical skills like line locating and marking; leak detection and corrosion monitoring; and re-establishing gas service.

Other features include:

Simulator Area. Training simulators will be used as a way for employees to experience various work activities in a controlled and safe environment. For example, a slip, trip -and-fall simulator will teach employees how to avoid falls, which are the leading cause of lost-time injuries at NiSource and most utilities. It also includes an excavator simulator and health and safety simulators.

Hands-on Labs. Areas designated for hands-on instruction and practice. The “service lab” contains a variety of gas appliances, allowing employees to learn how to safely relight equipment and to identify improper operation. The “street crew” lab allows employees to practice laying new distribution pipelines, operate valves, and responding to emergency situations. The “measurement and regulation” lab allows employees to practice maintaining system meters and regulators using compressed air.

Demonstration Areas. Trainers will gather equipment and material from across the company to use in demonstrations. This will include understanding the operation of older equipment still in service and the new equipment used to replace it. Due to the age of our distribution system, over time materials and installation practices have changed. Through the demonstration area, employees will learn how to recognize and replace obsolete equipment.

Excavator School. A designated outdoor space where excavator operators can practice maneuvering the heavy equipment in a safe, controlled environment, and a complement to the classroom simulator.

Fire Safety Training Area. A controlled outdoor area to practice fighting natural gas fires in monitored exercises. Trainers are able to start and stop the controlled fires with specially designed valves while other instructors stand alongside students as they extinguish the fire.

The Columbia Gas of Ohio Training Center is the second of four leading-edge training centers that Columbia’s parent company, NiSource, Inc. will build and operate in its service territory by 2018.  There is a facility in Pennsylvania and additional facilities are planned in Massachusetts and Virginia.  

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