The BDA Annual Audit: A Vital Tool for Safety and Quality Assurance

February 19, 2024

The role of annual British Drilling Association (BDA) audits in maintaining and enhancing safety and quality standards in operations cannot be overstated. As we look back on the audits conducted in 2023, it becomes evident that these evaluations serve as critical checkpoints for organisations, highlighting the effectiveness of their processes and identifying areas for improvement. This article delves into the feedback obtained from the audits conducted throughout the year, offering insights into the perceptions and outcomes associated with these evaluations.

Audit Feedback Overview

In 2023, feedback was provided on a total of 173 BDA audits, with responses collected from various stakeholders involved in the audit process. Out of these, 136 auditees and 56 engineers or supervisors provided valuable feedback on their experiences. The feedback trends reveal significant insights:

Auditees: The majority, at 81%, perceived the audit process positively, viewing it as beneficial and constructive. Neutral feedback was given by 13%, indicating no strong opinions either way, while 7% expressed negative sentiments. The criticisms mainly revolved around the perceived high cost of audits, the frequency of audits being too often, irrelevance to their operations, and reluctance to engage with short video interviews as part of audit evidence collection.

Engineers/Supervisors: Feedback from this group was overwhelmingly positive, with 61% expressing satisfaction with the audit process. A significant 37% had neutral feedback, and notably, there were no negative responses. This indicates a general approval of the audit’s role in maintaining safety and quality standards from a client and consultant perspective.

Opportunities for Improvement

Analysis of audit data revealed 51 opportunities to correct non-conformances were offered to and utilised by participating companies, leading to a commendable pass rate of over 95% for issues that would have otherwise resulted in failures. These corrections spanned various areas, including certification errors, wire rope replacement, insufficient guarding, issues with winches, and the handling of hot parts. This proactive approach to correcting non-conformances underscores the audit’s role in enhancing operational safety and compliance.

However, it’s important to note that these figures do not account for corrections made prior to and during the audit itself, highlighting an area for potential improvement in data collection and monitoring.

Major and Minor Non-Conformances

The audit identified 14 major non-conformances with no immediate correction possible, representing significant health and safety concerns. On the quality front, minor technical non-conformances were noted, including inadequate equipment and practices, such as the lack of a dip meter by 26% of personnel, non-standard labelling practices, and improper recording and handling of core samples.

Conclusions and Future Directions

The feedback from the 2023 audits paints a picture of a process that is well-received and highly valued by the vast majority of participants. With 80% of audits generating feedback, and 94% of that feedback being positive or neutral, the audit process appears to be effective in promoting safety and quality standards. However, the data also highlights the critical role of auditor interventions in achieving compliance, with a significant portion of audits requiring such measures to address non-conformances.

The persistence of certain non-conformances and the high potential failure rate without auditor intervention underscore the need for continuous improvement and stricter adherence to guidelines and standards. Moving forward, there is a clear need for more detailed data collection and analysis to better monitor and address audit-related issues, both prior to and during the audit process.

In conclusion, while the annual audit process has proven to be a vital tool for ensuring safety and quality, its effectiveness hinges on both the thoroughness of the audit and the responsiveness of the auditees to the feedback and interventions provided. As the industry continues to evolve, so too must the audit process, adapting to new challenges and continually raising the bar for safety and quality assurance.

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