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Filtering by Tag: case study

Online Drill Site Safety Certificate Programme

Drill Safe

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Colin Rice Exploration and Training recently launched a series of six online Certificate Programmes;

  • Drilling for Geologists
  • Drill Site Safety
  • Drill Site Safety (South African Law)
  • Exploration Supervisor
  • Drill Rig Inspector
  • Directional Driller

Each Certificate Programme is made up of a unique mix of courses that range from "Drilling Fundamentals" to "Drilling Calculations" to "The Fundamentals of Borehole Surveying". 

Given the increasing use of technology and the demand for our Drill Site Safety Programme from various geographic locations across the world, we now deliver our Programmes on an online platform, meaning that where ever you are in the world, you can take part in our Certificate Programmes. 

About the Drill Site Safety (SA law) Certificate Programme

The aim of this Certificate Programme is to improve the level of understanding of health and safety issues of the candidate and to provide him with the skills to improve his/her management of safety on the drill site. In order for a safety official to understand, identify and mitigate the risks and hazards involved on a drill site, he/she needs to understand the fundamentals of drilling as well as the various drilling methods. This Certificate Program ensures that the candidate has a good understanding of the fundamentals and then develops his/her ability to understand, identify and manage the risks and hazards present on a drill site. This Certificate deals with and is set in the context of South African Law.

Who should do this Certificate Programme?

All people involved in the operational aspects of a drilling project including, geologists, engineers, safety managers, safety officers, supervisors, foremen and contracts managers.

Course outline

This Certificate Program is made up of five courses:

  1. Drilling Fundamentals
  2. Introduction to Drilling Methods
  3. Fundamentals of Risk Assessment
  4. Fundamentals of Hazard Identification
  5. Legal Aspects of Exploration Drilling (SA Law)


It is essential that learners consider these important points before registering:

  • Currently all Courses are delivered in English and therefore the candidate must be able to comprehend and write English at school leaver level. The candidate will need to write/type clear and meaningful assessments.
  • It is required that the candidate has had exposure to at least one exploration drilling operation and has access to a drilling operation in order to complete the assessments. Colin Rice Exploration and Training require that you provide information about your experience to best judge if you will be bale to complete the assessments.
  • In situations where the candidate works for a mining or exploration company, it is advantageous for the line manager to be directly involved with the candidate as a coach or mentor.
  • Due to the Certificate Program being online, the candidate will need an email address and access to a stable internet connection.


The cost of this Certificate Program is R 7 200,00 per person, excluding VAT. 

Please contact Erin at should you require any further information.

Setting the drill site safety standard

Drill Safe

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This article was published in the July/August 2017 edition of GeoDrilling International.


Colin Rice, of Colin Rice Exploration & Training, describes a case study of drill site safety management in South Africa

Drill site safety has assumed an increasingly important role in South African exploration projects over the past eight years, and much of the increased focus on safety has been due to very onerous legislation that regulates operations. In South Africa, an exploration borehole is deemed to be a ‘mine’, and so all exploration drilling activities are regulated by the Mine Health and Safety Act. As the name suggests, the act was written to regulate mining activities and not drilling operations – in fact, the word ‘drilling’ appears only once. Nonetheless, all exploration activities must fully comply, and all persons involved in any exploration activity are subject to the very arduous requirements and the significant penalties that are prescribed in the act. Because there is no reference to drilling operations, mining companies have had to interpret the requirements of the act and then apply them to their respective exploration operations. Understandably, different mining companies interpret the requirements differently, and so several interpretations exist, and it is not uncommon that equipment deemed to be compliant at one mine is deemed to be non-compliant at another. This has caused confusion between contractors and their customers.


Approximately six years ago, Colin Rice Exploration & Training was approached by a major mining company to conduct a safety audit on a 33-rig exploration drilling project. It involved rotary-percussion drilling, and both wireline and large-diameter conventional core drilling. Three contractors were awarded work on the project, and so the auditing project involved many different types of equipment operated by crews with a wide range of competencies. Most significantly, there were three companies with varying levels of understanding of the fundamentals of safety management and very different attitudes to drill-site safety. The contractor had very little idea of its legal responsibilities or of the consequences if it fell foul of the law. Previous safety audits had been done by safety officers from the mine, and often the officer reported issues that were frivolous, while serious safety issues were not identified. It was clear that the quality of the audit was directly related to the level of drilling experience of the safety officer, and so it was common that different officers would inspect the same operation and arrive at different findings. Consequently, conflicts grew more frequent – the contractor was viewed as ‘the problem’, and safety personnel appeared to be on a crusade to stop the contractor from working for whatever reason they could find. It was clear that the safety management system had to become more consistent and comprehensive, and so a project was started to develop a set of drill site safety standards that would cover all aspects of a drilling operation. From these standards, a set of standardised safety inspection checklists would be developed that would be used by both the mine personnel and the contractor to conduct inspections. The first step was the development of a drill-site safety standard, it had to:

  • interpret and include all legal requirements;
  • include all ‘best practice’ in cases where the legal requirement was insufficient;
  • include requirements for all drilling methods and techniques;
  • be easily understandable; and,
  • eliminate or reduce the level of subjectivity required in doing a safety inspection.

The development of the standard went through many iterations before it was considered complete, but at every stage it was shared with the contractors and the checklists were used in the safety inspection process. Since the contractor was included in the process, it took ownership and the development of the highest-quality standards became easy. In addition, because the contractor and safety officer used the same checklists to do their safety inspections, there were no surprises. 


Drill site safety has four components, so the standards are developed in four sections:

  • Equipment: requirements for the drill rig, compressor, booster, water pump, mud-mixing facility, rod trucks and support trucks, welding machines, diesel and water bowsers.
  • Environment: general requirements while mobilising, drilling and during rehabilitation.
  • Personnel: requirements for crew and supervisor training and competence assessment.
  • Procedures: requirements for all routine and non-routine operations. 

The inspection checklist asks a simple question directly related to each of the requirements in the standards document – the safety inspector merely has to tick a box: yes, no or not checked. The way in which the questions are framed eliminates subjectivity, and because every aspect of the operation is included in the checklist, the inspection is comprehensive. 

Three separate checklists are used at different stages of the drilling operation. A pre-deployment inspection is done by a competent inspector, preferably at the contractor’s workshop, before the equipment leaves for site. In this way, any defects can be remedied in the workshop by qualified staff rather than at the mine. Once the drill and all ancillary equipment is on-site, set-up and ready, a pre-operation inspection is done. This will check issues that could not be inspected at the workshop; barricading, sump layout, lifting tackle and rod racking, for example, will all be checked. If all is in order, the inspector will authorise the contractor to start drilling. A periodic checklist is used on a weekly or biweekly basis and focuses on checking aspects of equipment that require regular maintenance and repair such as the core barrel, overshots, hoist cables, chuck jaws, quill rods, rotation-head guides, etc. This inspection also checks and verifies operating procedures. Initially the contractors pushed against the implementation of a safety standard. However, it did not take long for them to recognise that the process had many advantages. Firstly, it leveled the playing field – all contractors had to conform to the standard, and so pricing of contracts was much more comparable than was previously the case. Contractors also began to realise that improved levels of safety did not hinder productivity. Probably the greatest improvement was in the relationship between the contractor and the mining company; the contractor and the mine knew exactly what the requirements were and so there were no surprises when a safety inspection was done. Consequently, the contractor became a part of the solution to the problem.