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MPA keeps safety in the spotlight

MPA Stay Safe campaign

Quarrying industry launches its annual ‘Stay Safe’ campaign ahead of the school holidays

EVERY year, young people who venture into quarries unsupervised are killed or seriously injured. Last summer, four teenage boys drowned in disused quarries in separate incidents across the UK. All too often, these accidents occur because youngsters do not appreciate the potential hazards involved.

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is determined to keep safety in the spotlight with its annual ‘Stay Safe’ campaign. The launch of this year’s campaign comes ahead of a bank holiday weekend when quarry managers report an annual surge in quarry trespass by people of all ages.


The campaign will continue over the summer with school presentations and organized quarry visits across the UK.

‘Stay Safe’ is supported by the parents of teenagers who have died after entering a quarry uninvited. The teenager victims were engaged in activities that they and their friends perceived as harmless fun when the fatalities occurred.

‘If my son had understood the risk he was taking, he might still be with us today. It’s only through campaigns like Stay Safe that we’ll learn how to protect our kids from danger,’ said Tracy Walker, whose 15-year-old son Ryan drowned in a quarry in 2009 while swimming with his friends.

An April 2013 survey by the MPA showed that more than half of the quarries and related sites that responded had experienced problems with trespass during the last 12 months.

The MPA survey also analysed the main motivations for trespass. The most common motivation was theft, usually of cables and fuel, at 55%. Other reasons included recreational activities such as walking (40%), trail and quad-bike riding (23%), swimming (22%) wildlife spotting (15%) and rock climbing (8%).

‘It is worrying enough that adults put their own lives on the line,’ said the MPA’s chief executive, Nigel Jackson. ‘But by breaking down fencing and engaging in these activities, they are clearly setting a dangerous example for young people. Through their thoughtless actions, they are potentially exposing young people to the dangers of industrial sites that they then treat as adventure playgrounds.’

The MPA points out that even very strong swimmers can get into difficulty in the extremely cold or deep water often present in quarry lakes – with the added threat of falling rocks, concealed equipment, unexpected currents and pumps operating beneath the surface, and in some limestone quarries, the alkalinity of the water.

Moreover, face edges that can give way suddenly, steep drops concealed by vegetation, falling rocks, and silt ponds that can act like quicksand, all create hazards for walkers and climbers, while unstable terrain and moving plant make quarries unsuitable for trial and quad bikes.

Mr Jackson continued: ‘There are many other places to enjoy recreational activities and a sense of adventure without encountering these hidden and unexpected hazards. I hope that parents, teachers and anyone working with young people can help us get the critical safety message across: please stay safe and stay out of quarries unless you are on a supervised visit.’ 


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