The UK mineral extractives sector directly employs 74,000 people at over 2,000 active sites and plants, and supports an additional 3.5 million jobs throughout the supply chain1. Keeping our industry attuned to the latest thinking on safety, health and environmental knowledge is a major undertaking and a key priority for the Institute of Quarrying (IQ).
Everyone working in the quarrying and mineral products sector has a moral obligation to operate to the highest health and safety standards. The ramifications of ignoring best practice can have a devastating impact on personal wellbeing, as well as affecting commercial success, corporate reputation and shareholder value. Now there is growing recognition that a safe workplace should be a given, not a goal. That means moving from a ‘conscious’ commitment to safety to a culture where safety is ‘unconscious’.
The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) champions safety in the mineral products sector through the continuing professional development (CPD) of operatives and operators. This encompasses everything from the overarching responsibility of operators to achieving Target Zero, to personal awareness of potential hazards such as conveyor safety.
There has never been such a focus on driving up standards and professionalism at all levels across the mineral extractives and quarrying sector - from apprentices to chief executives, from multisite international operators to independent local producers. It’s a commercial imperative at a time when standards of health and safety practice are under the spotlight.
The history of commercial quarrying activity in Devon and Cornwall stretches back to the late medieval period. It’s a unique region with an extensive variety of workable minerals. Businesses operating there also have to contend with a variety of unique challenges associated with Devon and Cornwall’s standing as one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. Health and Safety onsite and beyond the gate is top of the agenda for local operators, with companies committing time and resource to knowledge development in this key area.
The quarrying industry has done much to improve health and safety over the years but there is no room for complacency – there remains much still to be done. Knowledge, understanding and practical application of key regulations and standards affecting the quarrying and mineral extractive industries across all those working in the sector is central to meeting the aim of zero harm.
Standards and professionalism is a key segment of the Institute of Quarrying’s Skills Wheel, covering all of the key regulations and standards that affect the quarrying and mineral extractive industries. The most well known environmental standard ISO 14001 is one of the key tools that many organisations use in managing their environmental impacts which in recent years has been revised.
This year’s Institute of Quarrying (IQ) ‘Inspiring for Generations’ centenary conference provided the backdrop to a rare gathering of the Institute’s presidents from around the world.
The entire UK economy relies on minerals, according to ‘The UK Mineral Extraction Industry’ CBI report in February 2016. It estimated UK mineral extraction at 210mt with a value of £15bn, contributing 16 per cent of the UK total economy.