Top 5 Project Safety Tips

Safety is one component of a project that can be overlooked but shouldn’t be. It’s easy to turn the other way when you see something wrong, but the safety and well-being of you and your co-workers should be a top priority. Not only that, but EMRs (experience modification rates) are often requested in proposals, so it is vital to keep this number low for future project work. As Geocomp’s Health and Safety Coordinator, I have five project safety tips that I use to help every project run smoothly without incident.

Safety Tips:

  1. Be Healthy. Having a healthy mind-set is key to effective work. It’s important that everyone working on the project is physically and mentally well. If you have an injury or don’t feel well, it’s important to let your supervisor know so both of you can work to avoid potential risks.
  2. Plan Ahead. Always plan ahead! If you are installing prisms on a wall, you have to know what size ladder to bring & other equipment according to the project needs. It’s never “one size fits all” for every project. If you can, visit the project site ahead of time to see what conditions you will be working with.
  3. Be Conscious. When you arrive onsite, be alert each time! Have a fresh set of eyes on the scene. Don’t get into a routine of going about your business – When you lose awareness, everything starts to blend together which can be dangerous to everyone involved in the project. Preview the site conditions as they permit to help plan properly.
  4. Survey Surroundings. Before you put the drill to the wall or screw the instrument down, give a quick look around and double check what you are doing. Make sure no one is in a position of getting hurt. To go along with the last tip, be conscious of what you’re doing. Re-work is a huge problem that wastes time and energy and could expose you to hazards. Focus on what you are doing and getting it done right the first time.
  5. See Something, Say Something. If you notice something that doesn’t look right, don’t ignore it! Saying something is really important to prevent injuries. If you are at a project site, did you notice if there are cones set up for machinery? Are extension cords taped down so no one can trip? Fill out a near miss form if you notice any of these inconsistencies so we can improve our practices to remove these. By doing this, we are able to keep a record and report of safety risks that we then discuss weekly to devise ways to prevent future incidents. 

Safety Equipment:

One of the biggest challenges with safety is enforcing preventative measures. All staff on site should be equipped with steel-toed boots, hard hats, safety vests, eye protection, and gloves. For certain projects, it may not always be possible to know ahead of time what supplies will be needed, but Geocomp keeps its vehicles well stocked with supplies in case someone forgets or misplaces safety equipment. We encourage others to do this as well. It’s always better to have back-up equipment than not enough.

Every field project should have a designated team leader who will be responsible to oversee safety precautions for the project on that day. The designated team leader should have the site specific safety plan in their possession, be aware of any special provisions for the project and make sure each team member is properly informed and outfitted for the day.  The designated team leader will also ensure that spare safety equipment is available on site for each day of work. Team leaders should start each work shift with a toolbox safety meeting to review work for the day and discuss safety precautions and work practices.

Another key element that is often overlooked is WATER! The designated team leader should always have water available for workers on site. Dehydration is a risk that could pose potential injuries as well. Make sure your workers are staying hydrated throughout the job at hand.

Every company shoots for zero injuries, but the reality is accidents unfortunately do happen. There are preventative measures to take in helping prevent future injuries. Periodic team meetings should always include a safety segment in which employees can bring up “near miss” incidents like broken glass or a cut extension cord. We can all learn from mistakes and should share our knowledge. Using your voice and sharing our experience is one way we keep each other safe.

Post By: Matt Ham, Geocomp Health & Safety Coordinator


Matt Ham graduated from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a BA in Environmental Science in 2013. His first job out of college was the GeoTesting Rock Lab and then moved up to Massachusetts Consulting where he helped out with iSiteCentral management. Since then, Matt has taken the lead on setting up many iSite projects, been heavily involved in instrumentation and monitoring installations and taken on the role as the company’s Health and Safety Coordinator.

3 Best Practices for Shipping Rock Samples

Don’t you hate having to go back and do something a second time because it went wrong the first time around? What if you could have avoided that second time altogether?

Although this idea pertains to many everyday activities, in the world of lab testing, this applies quite simply to packaging and shipping samples, specifically rock samples that require the utmost care. After a drilling program has been wrapped up, you don’t want to be the reason for lost time getting samples to the lab.

There are a dozen ways that a sample can be broken or weakened during shipping. Lack of knowledge and/or care can result in dropping, breaking or tampering with the samples which can also reduce the number of tests that can be performed or eliminate the possibility of testing a sample altogether. But, there is a way to save time, energy and money on preserving and transporting rock core samples to testing labs. These are guidelines and best practices developed by ASTM D5079 that we also recommend and use at GeoTesting Express.

Rock samples are delicate and require consideration when packaging up for shipments. Any rock sample can break, fracture or change physical condition if not properly packaged. If you assume that because a rock is ‘hard’ it won’t fracture, you are mistaken. Regardless of who is handling the sample, it is important to secure the ‘goods’ safely in the first place. If a sample is damaged during shipment, a replacement could possibly be shipped, but if not available, it would be very expensive to re-sample in the field. To avoid the hassle altogether here are 3 best practices to consider when packaging and shipping out a rock sample:

The Temperature

  • For all samples, the initial moisture content of a core should be preserved.
  • It is recommended that the use of a double walled and insulated container, such as a cooler be used to maintain the appropriate temperature of a sample.
  • Negative effects: freezing of pore water in the core may reduce the strength of the rock compromising the test results. Additionally, temperatures alternating between hot and cold may cause moisture migration from the core and weaken the rock due to differential thermal expansion and contraction between the grains.

The Packaging

  • Wrap samples in plastic wrap, air-tight bags or in aluminum foil and wax coating.
  • Standard bubble wrap can minimize vibration during transportation.

The Shipment

  • Once specimens are individually preserved, they can be placed inside the cooler of a ridge walled container for shipping. In some cases, shipping the entire core box is necessary.
  • It is key to fill voids within the container to minimize vibration and shock (samples should fit snug in whatever container you choose to use).

And just like that, you are ready to ship a sample safely to the lab! There is never a guarantee that something won’t go wrong in the shipping process. Sometimes you get the unfortunate lack of care with a reckless driver that hits every pothole imaginable creating vibration of the samples. The best way to avoid the shipping process having an effect on the precious cargo is utilizing the practices mentioned above. GeoTesting Express routinely provides sample transportation from project sites or client’s offices to our laboratory. Taking great care and utilizing special equipment will save your company time and money and get the best and most accurate results!

Post By: Jon Campbell, GeoTesting Lab Manager


Jon Campbell is a Lab Manager for GeoTesting Express. Jon has a B.S. in Geology and started working as a lab technician in GTX’s rock mechanics department back in 2011. As a lab manager, he frequently works with clients on different aspects of their project and address their shipping needs. Jon has helped to implement GTX’s Rock Drillability suite of testing and improve turnaround time within the department. He enjoys working on large and small projects, but his favorite is managing large scale tunneling projects.