Geo Thermal Wells can be horizontal at 5-10 feet deep but most often they are vertically drilled 150-300 feet deep into the ground. The closed loop wells are filled with HDPE pipe carrying water that leverages the earth’s constant 55 degree temperature to reduce building heating and cooling demands. The majority of the mechanical system is essentially buried underground instead of a large cooling tower and chiller. The result is a very small mechanical room, minimal wiring, materials and safety hazards after installation.
Drilling equipment is required for geothermal well installations. Equipment should be routinely checked and maintained to prevent failure or blow outs that may cause injury.
Struck-by / Caught Between
The drilling equipment used for the wells is big and heavy and constantly being hoisted into place. Anyone working around the well rig should be made aware of and kept clear from struck-by/caught between hazards. Will work be taking place near the drilling rig? If so, what steps have we taken to restrict work within a safe radius of drilling sections that could fall?
Drilling equipment is often very loud. All employees working with or around drilling equipment should wear hearing protection and proper eye protection. A noise evaluation must be done to determine noise exposures and then the employer must comply with the rest of the noise regulation as appropriate.
Slip / Trip Hazards
The geothermal well drilling process uses water to support the drilling of the wells and thus creates a lot of slurry which can be a serious slip/trip hazard. Proper protocol should be put into place to reduce slips and trips especially around moving equipment.
Certain geothermal installations require small trenches to be dug for the individual wells. Trenches should be properly reinforced, marked and/or barricaded to prevent collapse, trips and falls.
As with any mechanical or electrical system geothermal wells present potential electrical shock hazards when installing the heat pumps.
Is drilling taking place during the winter? If so how are we dealing with resulting slip hazards that other trades might be exposed to? Additional environmental concerns include strong winds, and excessively hot days where workers out in the open are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion.
- Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
- Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
- Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.
Questions for Discussion
- Where is it located?
- Which trades may be in a new situation?
- How is it sequenced?
- What equipment & materials are involved?
- How is it installed?
- How is it operated & maintained