The West of England Branch hosted both Dr Miles Watkins, IQ President and Simon Edwards, HM Inspector of Quarries on Monday 10th April 2017 as part of the annual programme of Technical Evenings.
Miles gave the Branch membership an update on the Centenary activities of the Institute, notably the process of creating the IQ Quarry Garden which will be on display at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.
The garden has been specially designed for IQ by Paul Hervey-Brookes to symbolize the connection between quarries and nature and serve as a monument to quarrying professionals from the past 100 years. Miles was also pleased to share that The Duke of Devonshire, owner of Chatsworth House, is a passionate advocate of the minerals industry and has taken the position of Patron of the Institute of Quarrying.
Other key highlights discussed included the planned launch of the IQ commemorative book, the creation of a cycle network to link 100 quarries across the UK and a range of local activities being organised by Branches across the country.
Following the brief IQ update, Simon Edwards took to the floor to give the evening's main lecture on 'Hot Topics' in Health & Safety from the perspective of the HSE. These were outlined as health, pedestrian safety, drilling operations and geotechnical management, ending with a review of fatalities and serious incidents from North America and how they could just as easily have occurred at UK operations.
On the topic of health, the discussion centered around management of dust and exposure in the workplace, with Simon emphasising there will be a lot more scrutiny on conditions within screenhouses and asphalt plants. The importance of correctly worn Respiratory Protective Equipment was highlighted through short yet powerful Toolbox Talk videos, with the suggestion that the proper management of dust exposure and enforcement of correct and appropriate RPE will form a key area of future HSE visits.
Simon then shared a sneak preview of a QNJAC Toolbox Talk on pedestrian safety set to be released this year, clearly re-enforcing the message that PPE must be maintained properly to be effective and that the inspection and maintenance of mirrors and reversing aids is crucial to effective pedestrian management. Operators were urged to ask themselves, "how well are pedestrians segregated from vehicles beyond the office car park?"
A considerable amount of time was spent discussing the importance of proper geotechnical management of quarries, notably ensuring that development is in accordance with the proposed working and recommendations from geotechnical specialists are carried out. There was also a clear message that Excavation & Tip rules should be site specific and in a format that is clearly understood by operators.
Simon wrapped up the evening by showing the Mine Safety & Health Administration (USA) fatality review slideshow, which reinforced key messages around geotechnical and pedestrian management and how easily a poorly managed situation can lead to a fatality. The message was clear that while all these fatalities were in the US, the conditions which allowed them to happen were still being found in UK quarries across the South.
Overall, the evening provided a clear message on what the HSE's focus areas for 2017 and beyond would be, backed up with real life examples and practical advice for operators, and the session was strongly appreciated by the 46 quarrying professionals present.