Section 11

Safety Issues on the Job line

When travelling overseas to construct wells, the 5 greatest health and safety risks are:
  1. Heat Stroke;
  2. Gastro-Intestinal Illness;
  3. Traffic Accident and/or Transfusion with Tainted Blood;
  4. Injury on the Job and/or Transfusion with Tainted Blood;
  5. Mugged (in cities) or Attacked (in remote areas);

Safe work practices, learned early, help reduce the possibility of accidents occurring causing painful injuries, expensive repairs or irreparable damage to machinery or even the well itself. Good work habits reduce errors that lead to accidents and/or injury. Such errors include:

  • positioning the rig on steep slopes that are filled with loose clay or other unstable material, on old rock fills, on surface soils or vegetation overlying sloping rock surfaces, close to traffic hazards and under dangerous banks (Lovett, 1985);
  • failing to keep flammables (fuel, chlorine etc) in properly marked, approved containers and stored away from sources of heat. Fire can also result from refilling gas tanks when the engine is running or has not been allowed to cool or failing to immediately clean-up any spilled gasoline (Lovett, 1985);
  • starting the drill rig motor when the drill pipe is not secure;
  • putting too much down-pressure on the drill bit and having the machine topple over (particularly if the guy ropes are not secure or the weights on the base are too light);
  • contacting power transmission lines while raising pipe or the drill mast or drilling during thunder storms (when the elevated drill mast is susceptible to lightning strikes);
  • touching the revolving drill pipe;
  • employees or spectators positioning themselves where they can be struck or can lose their balance if the drill pipe slips loose or sticks;
  • working on machinery that is moving (Lovett, 1985);
  • serious burns can occur if people are not careful and touch the hot exhaust mufflers of the mud pump or drill rig engines;
  • not covering a borehole after completion and allowing tools or other debris to fall in (this can render a hole unusable!) Similarly, one instant of carelessness can result in drill pipe or bits slipping down the hole when they have been loosened;
  • neglecting precautions against slips and falls (particularly where there is wet clay);
  • improperly lifting overly heavy or bulky loads of pipe etc causing serious back strain;
  • accidents are more prone to happen if spectators are not kept back behind a clearly defined barrier. In addition, a trained driller should also be operating the drill from a position where it is easy to reach all the control levers. Loose clothing should not be worn when drilling because it is more prone to catch on sharp or moving objects and personal protective equipment (such as safety hats, gloves and boots) should always be worn. Finally, it is important to maintain equipment in good working order and to ensure that the area around the drilling rig is kept tidy and in good order (Lovett, 1985).


Lovett, W. (1985) "Chapter 2 - Safety on the Job", pp. 9-12 in Water Well Driller's Beginning Training Manual, Worthington, OH: National Water Well Association, ISBN 1-56034-049-5.


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