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DrillSafe Articles

Safety information and collaboration forum for the exploration drilling industry in Southern Africa.

A comment from a safety officer

Drill Safe

By Chris Mc Donald
CSO, ROSOND, Northern Cape


Chris made contact with DrillSafe and said he had been reading an article on the website and he decided to write a comment, which turned out be more of an article than a comment about safety. So, Chris shared his thoughts with us and we are delighted to share them with you!


In a hazard alert posted in June last year, Colin explained that wrenches are hand tools and should only be used under “human” power. However, in my 25 years of experience as a safety officer I have come to realise that complacency and the human factor is to blame for many an accident. I have talked to many supervisors, operators and workers over the years and the answers are almost all the same “I know what I am doing” or “I have done it before, and nothing happened”.

I have found that spending time with a crew and getting to know the people on a one-to-one basis is the best way for me, as a safety officer to get the message across. I start off by doing small talk with them about their families, I ask questions like are they married or single do they have children, etc. 

The more I visit the crew the more they realise that I am not the stereotypical safety officer, “the bully”, but someone who is interested in their well-being. When that happens and it will take time, I get to the point that the crew are starting to trust me and listen to what I have to say, now I am able to get through to them.

A typical visit will go something like this, I will arrive on site and greet everyone, then I will chat about the weekend sport or some nondescript topic and after I have everyone’s attention and everyone is in a relaxed mode, I will start to explain the hazards that surround the workplace, the importance of doing the job according to the procedure, to stop doing a job that they are complacent in doing. They know that doing a job “quickly” or using a “short-cut” are like swear words to me that I abhor.

Years ago, I learnt that if I wanted to succeed in my job, I must walk the talk in everything I do and I must practise what I preach, as I do not know who is watching me. I must never get tired of training, training, training to get the message across.

I am content that in 25 years of being a safety officer I have never received a trophy or a gold medal. My reward comes at the end of each shift when I know my people are safe, uninjured and alive and are returning home to their loved ones and that is worth more than any trophy or a gold medal.

Modern technology has allowed us to achieve things we were unable to do some years ago like Whatsapp groups. I say thanks to my crew daily for working safely - remember we are working with humans not machines!