Latest campaign follows May 2023 campaign which identified key safety areas of concern
IRELAND’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is conducting a two-week quarry safety inspection campaign commencing today, Monday 18 September. The focus of the campaign is on safe machinery guarding and maintenance activities.
This inspection campaign follows a May campaign which identified key safety areas of concern, including inadequate machine guarding, lack of risk assessments for planned and unplanned maintenance, and lack of training in Permit to Work and Lock-out/Tag-out systems. Twenty-five improvement notices and 23 prohibition notices were issued over the May campaign, with the majority relating to guarding issues.
HSA Senior Inspector Hilary Byrne stated on the launch of the campaign that, ‘Quarries are potentially hazardous workplaces especially due to the large and powerful machinery used on a regular basis. Employers need to actively carry out risk assessments and put in place appropriate control measures, including safe ways of working. This is to ensure the safety of employees, contractors, and any visitors to these quarries.’
During this campaign, HSA inspectors will be seeking evidence of the following:
Routine inspection of machinery guarding
Routine inspection of emergency stops and emergency pull cords
Planned maintenance procedures and risk assessments for all planned and unplanned maintenance activities
The implementation of the outcome of risk assessments to ensure that these work activities are carried out safely, including Lock-out/Tag-out systems
That employees receive information, instruction, and safety training relevant to the tasks that are undertaken
That equipment and machinery used in maintenance activity is suitable for the task.
In the 10-year period from 2013–2022, quarrying, mining, and the associated manufacturing activities in the industry accounted for eight work-related fatalities in Ireland. A large proportion of serious and fatal incidents occur during maintenance operations, which can include fixed and mobile machinery, tipping bodies, and tyre changing or repair.
To minimize the risks in the case of moving machinery, it is necessary to consider guarding of dangerous parts, detection of dangerous situations, design of controls, provision of safe systems of work, use of protective equipment, and any other necessary measures.
Welcoming the HSA’s quarry safety campaign, Irish Concrete Federation chief executive Gerry Farrell said: ‘The high level of incidents that occur as the direct result of unsafe machinery operation and inadequate guarding or no guarding of hazardous moving machine parts is alarming.
‘We urge employers and duty holders to prioritize carrying out risk assessments. It is critical that our members remain focused on the fundamental safety risks associated with quarrying throughout the year.’