Auditing the Audit!

October 30, 2020

With the recent BDA webinar “Demystifying the BDA Audit” having attracted much interest – some 60 plus attendees – I thought I would pen a short blog on the topic of the Audit and outline a few points of note.

As I am sure you are all aware, the British Drilling Association (BDA) Audit was in desperate need of an overhaul: apart from much mistrust of its purpose, its administration needed addressing to improve its efficiency and throughput. With so much of the activity undertaken by the BDA designed to differentiate its members and the sector they represent through the BDA Audit, change was essential. However, it was also stressed that the BDA is not just about the Audit, but more the Audit is a vehicle for the BDA to fulfil its vision to raise standards in the industry.

To avoid the sticking plaster approach to a fix, the BDA undertook a thorough internal examination of the process – an ‘Audit of the Audit’ if you like – with the view to rebuilding it from the ground-up if necessary. We began the process by accepting that the Audit is something of a “Marmite offering” in the industry, in that it is not universally respected, but hopefully this can change. The Audit is after all ‘owned’ by its members and we welcome positive contribution to its content and ideas on its operation, and we hope by including these and addressing the shortcomings in the content, delivery and administration, the BDA can convince some of the cynics to get onboard.

So, with the appraisal complete, a number of initiatives were actioned, and the first step was to appoint Equipe Group, a geotechnical training company, to manage the administration processes of the BDA Audit. Its appointment followed an extensive selection process and Equipe’s understanding of what was required, made them the obvious choice. Equipe’s Director and BDA member Keith Spires, now heads up the administration process team and is responsible for the Quality Assurance of all BDA Audits. The Audit’s content and future development will continue to be managed by the BDA Health & Safety Sub-committee, alongside the BDA’s currently approved Auditors, Lee Allardyce, Philip Dainton and Andrew Frogley.

Working together, the new team is tasked with continually looking at ways to increase the Audit’s quality, consistency, and robustness – essential to grow its respect and trust across not only the BDA membership, but also the wider construction sector, in particular those who buy our services. It is also important we look to its consistency and reliability, as the ultimate goal is to have the entire Audit become third-party externally verified and accredited, and therefore endorsed by a prominent UK awarding body.

The BDA Audit itself was also put under the microscope; its content evaluated with areas marked for future development. However, the one of the differences is how a company will now apply for Audit. Gone is the lengthy paper trail and in with a simple online Audit application form that is accessed via the BDA website.

Providing all the required documents and certificates are included, as soon as the Audit application form is received, one of the BDA’s Auditors will contact the company directly to schedule the Audit. This is a vast improvement over the existing Audit process as it streamlines processes and speeds up the time to Audit too.

In parallel to the Audit’s revamp, the BDA Audit Handbook, available free to download from the BDA website – – has been updated and published. The aim of the handbook is to work together with the Audit, providing transparency as to what the BDA Audit is, what it examines and perhaps most important, what the end-goal is. As well as a reference guide to prepare for an audit it can also act as a reference to see which Standards / Regulations / Legislation / Guidance those committing to audit should be adhering to, as well as why a company should undertake a BDA Audit in the first instance. It should also provide a clue as to why audits are not passed on the day and some of the other common issues that result in failure. Follow the handbook and there should be no reason not to pass!

As discussed during the recent webinar, the general lack of training in wire rope inspection replacement and LOLER Rig inspections being either out of date or incorrect are easy fixes in many ways, but essential to demonstrate competence and to pass the Audit. Even employees having the wrong discipline on their CSCS card 1, or second person either not qualified or registered for NVQ can result in a fail, yet these are things that we should be on top of.

It’s not just the BDA Audit and processes that are evolving: the BDA’s remit to tackle mental health and wellbeing has been explored and as a result, the Audit Team’s Charlie Allardyce has become a Certified Mental Health First Aider. Charlie will now be able to provide confidential initial help and assistance on matters regarding mental health to those who may require it during his visits to sites, and hopefully people will make use of this provision. The plan is also to train the other Auditors to the same certification so help will be much more widespread.

To view the presentation delivered by the BDA Audit team during the webinar, click here.

Obviously the nitty gritty of the Audit is beyond the scope of this short article, but I hope it will provide a flavour of where the BDA Audit is, where it is heading and the benefits it offers to members, the drilling sector and to our client base.

Don’t delay sign up for your Audit today!

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