Company prosecuted for safety breaches after blasting operation puts workers at risk
BREEDON have been fined £300,000 for safety breaches after a fly-rock projection event occurred during blasting at Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry in Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, North Wales. Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 15 January 2020, a blast at the quarry resulted in rocks being ejected outside of the danger zone.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that fly-rock from the blasting operation had landed approximately 270m away, punctured the roof of an occupied work shed, and put a hole in the outside pane of the occupied manager’s office skylight window.
The HSE said it was reasonably practicable for the company to ensure that the blasting did not give rise to danger by increasing the danger zone, clearing the increased danger zone, increasing the quality and quantity of stemming for the explosives in the blastholes, and by ensuring an adequate blasting specification was produced and authorized.
However, it found that there were poor stemming practices, the written specification was prepared after the firing of the blast, and an inadequate danger zone was in place. As a result, there was a projection of fly-rock outside of the danger zone that caused a quarry operative to run for cover and put other employees at risk when the roof of the shed they were working in was punctured.
Breedon pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by virtue of the Quarries Regulations 1999, regulation 25, and were fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £2,534.80 in costs.
After the hearing, Adrian Jurg, HM Specialist Inspector of Quarries, commented: ‘Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk, and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements.
‘It is unacceptable that employees, and potentially members of the public, be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks that could easily lead to death or serious injury.’