A method for improving safety in the drilling sector

Boart Longyear’s Ben Redd explains how learning from mistakes, near misses and management interactions increases safety for drillers.

Life is full of regrettable moments, so wouldn’t it be great if we could share those instances so that others don’t have the same pitfalls and mishaps?

This is not a new thought as we hear so often about ‘best practices’ and have many laws, regulations, policies, and procedures that we must adhere to.

Protection, safety and security are often the underlying reason behind what we are required to do. We must abide by the law to stop at a red light not because of the threat of a ticket, but because ignoring it could bring severe consequences to ourselves, others, or property.

In the drilling industry, safety is critical. Although equipment is continually improving for productivity and safety, human supervision and interaction are still required and we know, as the English poet Alexander Pope pronounced, “To err is human…”

No one is perfect, but that is the fun of living in a world with so much variety. We would all like to think we have it all figured out, but the reality is that we always have something new to learn.

And sometimes we go through an experience and immediately adjust behaviour only to find that a short time later our habitual tendencies put us right back to before we learned our new-found experiential knowledge.

Who hasn’t been sunburned more than once, or that blister reappears because once again we didn’t use gloves when gardening?

Managing safety

So, how do we learn from our mistakes and help others learn from these mistakes so they don’t go down that same possibly hazardous path?

There are obviously many things that can be done, but here we will approach one way that has made a huge impact on improving safety for drilling activities around the world.

Boart Longyear’s environmental health and safety team (E&HS) incorporated an incident-management database system to track, report, and promote a conscientious safe working environment.

The company is not the first to use such a system, and fortunately many companies today have similar safety database systems. The premise behind the system is to reduce risk by helping people learn and change so they will practice safer behaviours and proactively address hazards before they result in an injury.

How it works

Employees are trained to report any incident, big or small, and designated employees enter all incidents, near misses, and management interactions into the incident management system.

• A gas cap is missing from a vehicle… it is typed into the system.

• A deer runs in front of the truck… even without contact, it’s entered as a near miss.

• A driller feels dehydrated and is required by his manager to go drink more water… it’s reported and entered in the system.

• An employee uses a wrench and bruises an elbow… it’s entered into the system.

Boart Longyear has introduced an app to help.
Boart Longyear has introduced an app to help.


A daily incident report is emailed out around the world. Employees review the daily incident report to make them aware of potential hazards and in turn make needed behavioural or procedural changes — now that’s continual improvement.

Recent upgrades to the Boart Longyear incident management system have included a mobile app version for ease of use, including entering data, tracking incidents, near misses, and management interactions.

An easy-to-use inspections module has also been added to the system. Information can be completed 100 per cent in the app, with or without an internet connection, and then sent to the global collection database instantaneously or when the person gets back into reach of cellular or WIFI connections.

Everyone benefits from incident reporting

We don’t know anyone that would disagree on the benefits of implementing more safety procedures to keep employees and others safe.

Even a precarious daredevil has built-in safety nets to give his audience thrills for yet another day.

Where the incident reporting system goes beyond the safety nets is that it also captures the before-unseen information for potential harm and flags it for an immediate thoughtful response.

When a company uses a safety management system, there are many advantages to the knowledge that is collected and disseminated.

The priority is safety and warning others of potential risks always helps to place harm at a well-planned distance.

Exploration and mining companies look for contractors that make safety a high priority. Lost-time incidents (LTI) are the last thing anyone wants.

It’s not only about making sure people work safely, but that they can go home to their loved ones in the same physical condition as when they reported for work.

Incident management systems do cost time and money to train on, implement, and utilise.

But that cost is small in comparison to saving a life and protecting investments. In the long run, safety and incident management systems increase productivity and keep operations running successfully.

Live a safety culture

At Boart Longyear, “Safety First” is a core value. The incident management system is a great way for all employees to share while making safety a daily focus.

Many times the system has proven to be a useful part of the repertoire of EHS tools that keep everyone responsible, accountable and safe. 

For Boart Longyear, fostering a safety culture that emphasises why we work safely is more than just a safety program — it’s the way employees work every day. No matter what you do, take time to make safety part of your daily activities.

Ben Redd is Boart Longyear’s global systems manager – environmental health safety & technology. The article appears in the October–December issue of Safe to Work.

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