The BDA Audit – The Changes Explained

October 25, 2021

In July 2021, the latest British Drilling Association (BDA) Audit was launched, with new questions added focussing on the technical knowledge of the drilling crew. Historically, the audit has focussed on compliance with the various health and safety regulations and legislation applicable to land drilling operations in the UK. The additional audit questions aim to broaden the scope of the audit, to assess the competence of a drilling crew’s compliance with drilling-specific standards to achieve quality results, rather than simply assess if they are drilling safely.

These changes required an alteration to the way in which questions were phrased and asked to the prospective auditees. The new audit format now focusses on a simplified question and answer format, with circa 90% of the audit questions now following the same format with the only answers available being ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

New questions have also been added to assist with gathering information pertinent to land drilling operations. Questions concerning awareness of noise levels, requirement for specific PPE/RPE, competence to inspect wire ropes and level of training regarding contaminants such as asbestos have been added. However, it is important to note that for the first 12 months of this audit update, all of these questions are purely for information purposes only and their purpose is to establish industry baseline on these topics. Once information has been gathered and studied by applicable BDA committees, the requirements may become mandatory for future audits. Any alterations to mandatory audit requirements will of course be communicated to the membership ahead of time.

As a result of the additional questions, the time it takes to complete an audit has increased slightly. However, to combat this, the BDA Audit Management are now requesting that all drilling machine and equipment certification (PUWER inspections, thorough examinations of lifting equipment, SPT calibrations, etc) be sent across prior to the audit so that it can be checked and inserted into the audit report ahead of the auditor’s physical visit. Not only will this provide the audit team with an opportunity to spot any issues with certification prior to the audit taking place, it will also save time on the day of the audit. If certification is not sent across before the day of audit, it must be immediately available on site for the auditor to check. If the certification is digital and held on a remote server, it is the auditee’s responsibility to ensure it is available on site and issues such as poor 3G/4G signal do not prohibit the auditor’s ability to check certification.

Analysis of non-conformances and recommendations for improvement collected since the launch of the new audit has indicated that there are a number of recurring themes in terms of standards not being met:

  • Drillers not being consulted during the preparation of site-specific RAMS
  • Emergency procedures for administering First Aid not being practiced
  • SPT rods not being checked for straightness and/or this check not being documented
  • Applied Factors of Safety not being listed on Thorough Examination certification
  • Rotary guarding not being compliant
  • Sample labels not identifying the driller’s name
  • Drillers not being trained in asbestos awareness or non-licensed asbestos in soils

As more data is gathered, a full report on common non-conformities will be shared with the BDA Membership and initiatives to improve compliance may be implemented.

Applications for audits are currently at an all-time high, with circa 75 audits to be completed within the next 2 months. If your company has drilling operatives in need of auditing, please contact the BDA Audit Management team to submit an application today.

To view the BDA Audit Handbook, visit – BDA Website Audit Handbook

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