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Week-long inspection blitz on Irish quarries

Gerry Farrell and Dr Sharon McGuinness

Health and Safety Authority to carry out more than 50 site inspections as part of Quarry Safety Week

A WORKPLACE safety blitz is being carried out on Ireland’s quarries this week by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). The Quarry Safety Week campaign, from 9–16 September, will focus on the known causes of fatal incidents at quarries, such as machinery and vehicle safety issues.

During Quarry Safety Week, inspectors from the HSA plan to carry out more than 50 quarry inspections throughout Ireland.

Urging employers to lead the way in delivering safer workplaces, Dr Sharon McGuinness, chief executive officer of the HSA, said: ‘Since 2009, six people have lost their lives in quarries and many more have suffered serious, debilitating injury. That’s why Quarry Safety Week is so important – we need people to get home safely.’

Welcoming the support from the Irish Concrete Federation for the week-long safety blitz, she said employers, contractors and self-employed in the sector must all understand that safety is their priority.

Insisting that the overall aim of the campaign is not to catch anyone out, Dr McGuinness said inspectors will be focusing on the management of safety and the implementation of control measures to eliminate and reduce the risk arising from hazards in quarries, which are essential in keeping workers safe.

‘Considerable numbers of traffic movements happen on a daily basis at quarries,’ she said. ‘These involve very large quarry vehicles with limited visibility, increasing the risks to workers, pedestrians and visitors of being struck.

‘To ensure safety at quarries, it is paramount that the control of quarry vehicles is a high priority focus for quarry management and quarry workers. All vehicles must be kept in good condition, pre-checked on a daily basis, with particular emphasis on the maintenance and testing of brakes.’

Starting today, HSA inspectors will be monitoring such activity on the ground, as well as looking out for safety breaches.

The inspectors will be seeking evidence of the following:

  • All drivers of loading shovels and dumper trucks must be competent and hold the relevant Quarries Skills Certification Scheme (QSCS) cards
  • The quarry has an appropriate and implemented traffic-management plan
  • The quarry has identified any risks to pedestrians and visitors and has appropriate controls in place
  • Operators carry out regular brake testing of quarry vehicles
  • Operators have a designated brake-testing area
  • Vehicles have appropriate visibility aids and high-visibility clothing is worn by workers and visitors.

Welcoming Quarry Safety Week 2019, the representative body for the Irish quarrying and concrete manufacturing sector urged the industry and representative organizations to step up the emphasis on safety issues this week by holding in-house talks and awareness training.

Backing the HSA’s quarry safety blitz, the Irish Concrete Federation’s chief executive, Gerry Farrell, said this week was an opportunity for companies to review their safety procedures and implement new initiatives to enhance the safety and well-being of all employees.

‘I strongly urge quarry managers to review their operations this week with a view to managing the risk associated with vehicles and machinery,’ he said. ‘Safety, however, must remain a priority all year round, and with everyone’s efforts, the level of fatalities and serious injuries of the past can be significantly reduced.’

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