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About the Sonic Drilling Industry

Sonic Drilling and Safety: Something to Consider

Sometimes, unthinkable tragedies occur, and one of the best ways to pay tribute to the victims is to think about how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future. Such a tragedy happened in Brooklyn on October 11, 2016. A construction worker named Paul Kennedy was killed when a metal hook attached to a crane, which was positioned five stories high, crushed him as it inexplicably fell. Kennedy had stepped out in front of his equipment, which he was using to drill piles, when the accident occurred.

There is not enough known information about the case yet to determine why the equipment failure happened, why Kennedy had to step out in front of his equipment, or whether any other types of equipment could have helped prevent the tragedy. OSHA is investigating, and a report will be made public in the weeks to come. The accident took place during the same week as the annual Deep Foundation Institute (DFI) conference in New York City. 

Construction of building foundations is always dangerous work and involves the use of heavy equipment and machinery. Most contractors have robust safety programs and OSHA requires initial and periodic training for all construction workers. However, even dangerous jobs like foundation drilling can become routine, and it can become easy to ignore the usual safety procedures. There are several techniques and safety alerts to bear in mind to help prevent unnecessary tragedies.

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Safety Issues That Can Sneak Up On You

Major safety concerns on a project like equipment failure, hazardous material, or unsafe terrain naturally take precedence when you are preparing for a job. However, there are many other issues that seriously impact drillers, too. The International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) has archived safety topics that have been discussed over the years at safety meetings.  

The list of issues, which you can find here, is not just a great resource as a checklist of potential dangers your drillers can face, but, as an added bonus, the information tied to each topic is also valuable. A wide range of issues are covered in detail, including risks that can increase in very hot or very cold weather, how to handle a worker that seems to be under the influence of drugs, fatigue, spider bites, and more. 

These potential hazards can be overlooked, but knowing how to handle these different situations can help prevent more serious tragedies from occurring on the job. 

Safety, continued

One excellent safety resource is the Loss Prevention System (LPS). Dr. Jim Bennett, PhD, developed LPS to improve safety performance on the job site. LPS is a behavior-based comprehensive management system designed to prevent or reduce losses using behavior-based tools and proven management techniques. Through LPS, it is noted that the majority of accidents are caused by what are called "Personal Factors." Being properly trained and knowledgeable about job hazards is part of the solution, but it is also important to be willing to take the time and effort required to perform a task safely.

MSHA recently highlighted other fatal accidents that can happen in the drilling industry. The safety alert linked here discusses the importance of inspecting the equipment you are using as well as the surrounding area. It is also important to make sure you are always using the right tools and/or equipment for the job. 

Using Sonic Drilling for your application instead of conventional methodologies can also be helpful. The Terra Sonic team has over two decades of manufacturing Sonic Drill rigs with the driller's safety in mind. Here are some of the safety benefits of TSi Sonic Drill Rigs.

Help Reduce Slips and Falls: TSi Sonic Drill Rigs include a sturdy, wide platform on which the driller can stand and operate the rig. Instead of risking a walk across uneven or potentially slippery ground, the driller remains elevated above the terrain on a flat surface.

Help Reduce Body Strains: Especially with the addition of Terra Sonic's Automatic Pipe Handling System  (APHS), drillers are able to avoid a lot of the lifting and manual moving of equipment that conventional drilling requires.

Help Reduce Exposure to Machinery: There are no flights on the augurs, so workers have a lower risk of being exposed to the moving equipment during the drilling process.

Help Reduce Exposure to Hazardous Materials: When a TSi Sonic Drill Rig is being used, the samples are contained within the core barrel and then vibrated into a sealed PVC sleeve. Drillers do not need to make direct contact with potentially hazardous materials within the samples. Sonic Drilling also helps reduce IDW, so there is less need for cleaning up hazardous materials after a project is completed.

Never take safety on any drilling job for granted. Always be sure all who are involved remain diligent, cautious, and dedicated to safety above everything else. 

Mike Scaringella | Terra Sonic International | 352.801.9016 |