“The ability to do something well, measured against a standard, especially ability acquired through experience and training.”

It is not adequate for organisations and individuals to self declare that they or their employees are competent. They have to provide proof that their competence has been assessed (measured) by an independent third party, and to a recognised standard.

Under UK law, the Construction Design & Management Regulations (CDM) says that “Employees are expected to have the appropriate qualifications and experience for the assigned tasks”. Clients must therefore have proof that the contractor and the workforce they employ satisfy this legal demand.

In 2000, the National Vocational Qualification in Land Drilling, see NVQs, was introduced for all members of a drill crew, across a wide variety of different drilling disciplines. The award is readily acknowledged and embraced by BDA members, and is widely accepted proof of competence for clients and main contractors. The BDA commitment to this scheme is reflected in one of its membership criteria which states that “75% of the Lead Drillers are to have an appropriate NVQ … and 50% of Drillers are to have an appropriate NVQ”.

The BDA Audit was introduced to confirm ongoing competence post NVQ. The Audit is available for all drilling disciplines and for all operatives, whatever their role in a drill crew. All individuals registered on the scheme are subject to an on-site audit every 12 months. The Audit incorporates checks on all aspects of work undertaken, including those associated with health and safety, legal compliance of plant and equipment, together with technical competence.

The NVQ qualification, supplemented by a successfully passed BDA Audit, is without doubt the most robust mechanism for measuring and proving ongoing ability and competence in the drilling industry. To register for the BDA Audit, an individual must have a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Land Drilling, together with a current CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card in Land Drilling.

Most recently, the BDA and ConstructionSkills introduced a Drilling Apprenticeship scheme, which has been exceptionally well received and supported. This two-year training scheme has the outcome of a NVQ Land Drilling, Lead Driller award. The scheme provides proof of an undeniable training commitment for those member organisations that have nominated and supported their staff through their introduction to the industry.

The CDM Regulations demand that all clients, CDM co-ordinators, designers, principal contractors and contractors engage a competent and trained workforce. The BDA has and will continue to be instrumental in providing its member organisation nationally recognised and third party verified qualifications and training, that allow individuals to satisfy their legal obligation.

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