Surface drilling is honest and rewarding work. But, it can also be a high-risk occupation. And even with safety innovations in drilling equipment, like coring bits, lack of safety knowledge and training may cause your workers to make perilous mistakes during operation. According to the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), poor preparation for a drilling program may pose risks like:
- Crush Injuries – These are caused by getting one’s fingers or feet stuck in between moving machine parts.
- Entanglement Trauma – This can be brought about by getting jewelry, loose clothing and hair caught in the machine.
- Impact Injuries – These happen when one’s hands and fingers hit dangerous moving parts of a machine or get struck by flying materials like loose bolts and cables.
- Falling Objects – Drill setups and tear downs may also pose risks like collapsing beams or platforms.
As such, it’s important to continue taking precautions before, during and after your drilling process. Plus, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) requires you to do so. Here’s a short guide to keeping your employees out of harm’s way.
Preparing for Operations
The PDAC recommends the following when preparing for on-site drilling activities:
- Training – Every worker should be given training for handling equipment and other materials. The OSHA requires you to establish Program #P770200 or the “Surface Common Core Programs for Diamond Drillers for Both Runners and Helpers.” Employees should have a Certificate of Achievement after completing the course, which is provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
- Core Facilities – Provisions for logging and handling cores should be far away from the rig. This way, those managing sediment cores won’t be affected by hazards associated with the site. Racks should also be new or updated to be stable enough to bear the weight of the cores.
- Personal Protection – Workers should always wear personal protective equipment like safety goggles with side-shields, masks to prevent dust inhalation, heavy-duty gloves, steel toe boots, earplugs and water-resistant clothes when on-site.
Here are precautions to take during and after drilling and core logging.
- Alternating Shifts – The PDAC recommends site supervisors to consistently rotate workers to lessen their exposure to dust, noise and repetitive action from sampling cores.
- Trust in Machines – Make the most out of your mechanical lifting devices to reduce the physical stress that workers have to deal with when lifting sediment.
- Careful Handling – During drilling activities, workers may be exposed to different kinds of minerals and chemicals that may harm their health. These methods are recommended to minimize exposure:
- Hydrochloric (HCl) Acid – A diluted HCl solution may be used to examine cores and minerals. They may damage the skin, so people tasked to use this should wear splash goggles, gloves and mask to avoid burns and toxic fume inhalation.
- Potassium Ferricyanide – This is used in identifying and differentiating carbonate alterations. Employees who apply this to the drill core must wear safety goggles and gloves.
- Nickel Powder – This is a chemical used to know if there is a presence of nickel on a core or rock. Workers should wear long sleeves and pants to avoid getting this on their skin, as it may cause irritation.
- Hydrofluoric Acid – This is an extremely toxic substance used for surveying. Workers should receive training for correct handling before using. They may also have to wear a respirator along with their existing PPE.
It’s your responsibility as site supervisor to keep every worker safe on your premises. Use this guide as a checklist for your drilling operations. While you may have to put in more time and effort in enforcing safety precautions, it’s worth its weight in gold when your operations yield a perfect zero in on-site accidents.
Optimize Your Drilling Operations
If you want a safe and smooth surface drilling activity, you’ll need high-quality equipment from Pilot Diamond Tools. We offer a wide variety of drilling products, from configurable coring bits to reinforced and thermally stable casing and rod shoes. We’ve been working with diamond drillers and construction companies since 1969, so you can expect nothing but the best products from us.
Contact us today to streamline your drilling operations.