Researchers associated with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL), are investigating injuries (fatal and nonfatal) attributed to water well drillers during well drilling activities. Injury data, obtained from various sources, suggest that many water well drillers are experiencing unnecessarily high insurance premiums and very avoidable citations or violations from the direct result of accidents, injuries, and fatalities occurring throughout the water well drilling industry. Expensive insurance premiums and unnecessary citations are the direct result if poor heath and safety practices. Visits to numerous water well drilling sites were conducted by NIOSH personnel to characterize and identify the injury data collected and to provide inexpensive strategies to prevent, minimize, and eliminate safety and health issues associated with water well drilling activities. The following suggestions and recommendations are based on field visits to drill sites and personal communications with drill operators, to implement safety and health strategies in the drilling industry. Make safety and health a higher priority through daily awareness, prevention, and control measures. . Make sure your employees know the importance of safety and health issues to your company's success and their livelihood. . Develop formal safety and health plans. Contact your local state association, the National Ground Water Association, your insurance company, or local OSHA office for those specific to water well drilling. . Think of ways to reward employees practicing proper safety procedures-through recognition, awards, or a drawing for a gift certificate. Stop, look at, and re-evaluate your operations and everyday procedures. You may tend to overlook small and large things because you see them all the time. But are they safe? . Lead by example-follow all your rules to the letter. . Share the responsibility by delegating. Assign a safety director. Give a monetary reward or perk to the safety director. Make it a rotating position. Send them to off- site training. . Continue to provide safety communication and dialogue to all employees. One of the most important aspects of ensuring safety and health is practice. Mention it daily. Do it daily. Well drilling accident statistics remain high and NlOSH is in the process of developing suggestions to decrease accidents in the water well drilling industry. However, making well drillers aware of this information is valuable as a deterrent. NlOSH's objective is to increase awareness that health and safety problems do exist and improvements on working conditions can be self-implemented. Programs and suggestions already exist from other organization &-and they are free. Find them, and modify them to your operations. For example, give logo jackets to all employees if your company has a safe year. Not only is it a professional gesture, but it advertises your business as well. The bottom line is that business owners are responsible for their employees' safety and health. Ultimately, you pay higher insurance premiums, and possibly lose an employee for some period of time.
NIOSH, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236