Why Audit? Why Not!

January 19, 2021

The British Drilling Association (BDA) has many aims and objectives, ranging from improving efficiency, health and safety and standards in the industry through to more indirect actions, such as promoting innovation, training, establishing codes of practice and much, much more. All these objectives are bound together by the BDA Audit and a commitment to be audited is to sign up for all the aims and objectives of the BDA. And there is much to celebrate about the Audit; since its establishment it has helped elevate the drilling sector to professional status as well as proving a catalyst to drive up the standards the sector so badly needed and provide a true differentiator for members to use to compete and win business.

The BDA Audit has not stood still either, evolving, and adapting to address the modern technical challenges of real-world working, as well as move towards establishing that all important third-party assessment that proves your drilling operatives and their equipment, are safe and competent to carry out work. Of course, the Audit has always attracted criticism, and whilst some of the points made in the past were initially deserved, there were also many mistruths and myths being spread which were absolutely without foundation. Whilst most if not all of the criticisms have been addressed the myths still circulate and the BDA has tackled these head-on, through both editorials and its recent webinar, which for the first time gave members the forum to voice concerns and issues directly to those managing the Audit. This latter device was extremely successful, enabling the BDA to finally put to rest the concerns members may have had, but also how the Audit’s recent “re-launch” had made it even more relevant to BDA members and the work they undertake.

In fact, the recent changes to the Audit have moved it on considerably and many companies are already seeing the benefits to the status of their drilling operatives, and also where it ultimately matters most – to the bottom line.

One of the main changes to the Audit has been the transition of administration and Quality Assurance to Equipe Group, the UK’s leading geotechnical training company. Though its content and development remain with the BDA’s Health & Safety Committee, Equipe Group’s Director and BDA member Keith Spires now leads the administration process team and one of the most noticeable changes is the speed of booking and the ability to also block book audits.

The Auditors themselves – Lee Allardyce, Philip Dainton and Andrew Frogley – have adapted their processes and working to greatly improve response times and consequently the throughput of audits being undertaken. For example, Lee Allardyce’s has continued to travel around the country, even to Northern Ireland, during this period of uncertainty, often in his own time, to complete Audits, and of course always working COVID-safe! Lee can actually boast having completed 11 audits in 6 days, which under normal circumstances would be remarkable, but at present is testament to Lee’s and the BDA’s commitment to getting companies and their operative audited. Equipe Group has also ensured the prompt, thorough and rigorous processing of the internal verification of the audits, which has ensured there have been no delays and on to the speedy issuing of e-Audit cards.

The BDA recently undertook the auditing of Causeway Geotech Limited, a Northern Ireland-based ground investigation contractor that operates throughout Ireland and Great Britain, to deliver a broad range of ground investigation services to inform geotechnical and environmental conditions of sites. It makes for a great case study of how easy the whole Audit process is.

BDA Auditor Lee Allardyce completed the site work for 11 Lead Driller Audits for Causeway in an intensive 8-day period, having planned extensively for the process, communicating continuously with Drilling Foreman Shane Johnston to ensure the audits were complete safely. The off-site post processing of the Audits took a further 10 days before the Internal Verification could be carried out by the BDA Audit Manager. Travel was rigidly planned minimising excessive travel over the course of the 8 days and once on site, Causeway had an extremely professional set up, with rigorously enforced COVID policies and procedures in place. During Audit, any issues brought up with regards to non-conformances were handled in a professional manner, and the findings discussed on site, with Causeway immediately actioning a plan to remedy them. As Shane said: “it was really a case of liaising with the BDA Team and establishing what, if any, changes were in place as part of the new audit. Once we were assigned an auditor (Lee) and given a slot in the calendar, we worked directly with Lee to sort out the logistics and plan out a sensible schedule for him to capture as many rigs as he could within that period, while avoiding excessive travel.”

Darren O’Mahony, Director at Causeway, has always been committed to ongoing training, high HSQE standards and general good industry practice and the BDA Audit is an essential part and with regards to the recent Audits commented: “From engagement with the BDA, Causeway Geotech’s Operations Department found the process to be proficient and professional, with the lead-in time of a few weeks being such that they had adequate time to prepare an implementation plan for getting the audits planned in a sensible sequence to maximise cover over the allocated seven day period.”

Plant Manager Colin Dunlop oversaw Causeway’s side of the Audit process and said: “Having been through the BDA audits previously, we have a compliant system of work in place and as such it meant that any extra over planning for this audit was confined to double checking of everything. Working with plant and equipment, there are inevitable failures on occasion and having a disciplined system in place of how to deal with and log these issues makes traceability a matter of course, which is fundamental to the success of the audit.

The BDA Auditor assigned to Causeway for this visit, Lee Allardyce, was found to be extremely thorough, but crucially also fair, and engaged with Causeway throughout the process with positive communication between himself and the Drillers, as well as Shane Johnston. Any potential non-conformances identified at any early stage were relayed back to Shane to facilitate them being remedied within hours such that their implementation could be witnessed by the auditor during the audit visit and hence the audit achieved . This proactive approach is to be applauded as it allows for genuine improvement without stigmatising the very process itself.”

Whilst only a snapshot view of the Audit process, it does show how simple the process is and without the myth of its inconvenience being all pervasive. What impact it does cause for the short period of time the Audit takes, is far outweighed by the benefits it brings to the operatives and the company.

The BDA Audit will always be an evolving device, but as a differentiator for those committed to improving all aspects of drilling, it is without rival, and with ever more clients looking at proof of competence as part of their pre-qualification process, , the Audit really is an industry must.

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