The BDA Audit... Exposed!

March 23, 2020

There are a lot of myths and untruths floating around about the British Drilling Association (BDA) Audit, with some over stating its complexity and others, in contrast, suggesting that it’s nothing more than a bit of paperwork which drillers never fail.

The BDA Drilling Audit has evolved and has is regularly updated to take account of the changing drilling environment and the challenges the sector faces. It is hoped this article will explain the audit process a little, how it has and is evolving and some of the most common issues, or non-conformances that the audit process throws up and thus why audits are not passed on the day. Hopefully it will also counter some of the myths and encourage more to take the plunge and be audited.

First, a bit of background of where the BDA Audit stands presently. Though the official website lists some 211 auditees as of November 2019, some of these have expired audits and some have not yet closed out their non-conformances, but in addition there are a number of drillers that failed their audit.

The most common reason that audits are not passed is the general lack of training in wire rope inspection replacement, which is actually very concerning, when drillers are asked daily to sign off that their equipment and wire ropes are safe to use. Other common non-conformances include:

  • 36% LOLER Rig inspections being either out of date or incorrect
  • 23 % of people have the wrong discipline on their CSCS card 1
  • 7% of second men are either not qualified or registered for NVQ
  • 16% have the feet missing from a CP rig
  • 12% of equipment’s LOLER certification is either out of date or incorrect
  • 12% the drill string guarding does not conform to current standards
  • 10% of people still do not guard hot surfaces
  • 10% do not have a rescue plan for when they climb the rig
  • 8% have no or wrong First Aid Qualification
  • 7% do not have the auxiliary winch inspected
  • 7% do not have a torque wrench for changing the wire rope
  • 6% do not have CAT and Genny training

It is clear from this that drillers are not initially passing, and indeed failing, the BDA Audit for, often, quite simple issues. However, where safety critical issues are identified on site, the Auditors will terminate the assessment and leave site, after alerting all involved of the reason for the cessation and the actions required to remedy the problem.

The audit team comprises three auditors: Charlie Allardyce (Cumbria), Philip Dainton (Bolton) and Andrew Frogley (Banbury).

Interestingly, from a percentage prospective Scotland has a far higher proportion of audited drillers, though from a numbers point of view the north/south split is pretty even.

In general, the auditors found that far more Cable Percussive Rigs fail than Rotary, although when it is a rotary fail then it is usually far more serious as it normally involves a guarding issue.

A recent review of the audit content and reasons why drillers and their equipment were not passing the assessment highlighted a small number of areas where the Auditors were not applying the same criteria. These include welfare facilities, COSHH, SWL’s of lifting accessories and service avoidance procedure.

In order to iron out these discrepancies the BDA Audit has been updated, and whilst not any less stringent on the issues it examines, has moved to eliminate any possible inconsistency between assessors. It is hoped it will evolve further to stand up to the scrutiny required by an external third-party audit, which is the ultimate plan and which will add so much more credibility to the audit for the good of the driller, the client and the drilling industry.

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