Cath Pickett, HM Inspector of Quarries was welcomed to the West Midlands branch technical evening 24 September as the first speaker for the 2014/15 season of talks. The evening covered a review of topics of current interest to the HSE.
Opening with a review of the prosecution that had been completed by the HSE over a fly-rock incident at Hanson’s Brayford Quarry in Somerset. The scene was set by describing the background to the quarry, how the particular shot was drilled, charged and the danger zone was set. Photos were shown of the fly-rock that had been projected, where it had landed on a public road that was inside the danger zone narrowly missing the sentry and members of the public.
The key areas focused on during the investigation were the drilling accuracy, the control of charging along with the setting and control of the danger zone. The outcome of the case was a conviction and fine for the operators under the Quarries Regulations 1999 and for the shot firing and drilling contractors under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).
The continued interest in rock fall by the HSE was explained, setting out the absolute requirement to avoid rock fall by the quarry operator through design and operation. An example of a rock fall incident that could have led to serious injury was given, going onto set out the problems of controlling rock fall and what solutions can be used. The reporting of rock fall incidents under RIDDOR 1995 (rev 2012) was also discussed, which although these incidents should be reported it is believed not all instances are. Examples of rock fall were given with the audience being asked to consider whether these were reportable or not, leading to some lively discussion.
The next topic provided interest to all operations. Covering pedestrian and traffic management on sites and how it was expected for the quarry operator to have assessed risks to pedestrians and planned the traffic flow, ensuring these risks are reduced. The demarcation of pedestrian areas, fencing or barriers, signage and other measure like one-way systems etc were all covered.
On speaking about lorries tipping over on site, Cath explained that she was on a QNJAC sub-committee with operators and hauliers looking at vehicle safety and specifically measures to reduce these types of incidents. The occurrences of which are all too common in the industry and can lead to serious or fatal injuries. Measures already being undertaken were described, such as facilities for drivers to check loads are evenly distributed before leaving site and means to rectify any poorly loaded vehicles. It was raised that tipping off areas should be pedestrian-free zones, as level as possible and vehicles should be fitted with level indicators if workable.
Cath finished by mentioning QNJAC and www.safequarry.com as sources of information and concluded with a short quiz for which she provided prizes in the form of some very nice doughnuts!
After a very lively discussion, secretary, Stephen Webb, thanked Cath on behalf of the branch.