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QNJAC Guidance

A quarry blast

First published in the April 2024 issue of Quarry Management 

Written by the industry, for the industry

In this article, QNJAC’s Drilling & Blasting Working Group chair, Bob Woolley, talks about his committee’s actions and plans to promote health and safety, raise training standards, and increase competencies in the drilling and blasting field.

First-hand knowledge

‘In the current operational climate, ensuring drilling and blasting practices keep pace with new technologies, whilst retaining existing knowledge and competencies, remains critical to safe operations,’ explained Mr Woolley. ‘By working collaboratively as part of QNJAC, the Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee, sector specialists with the insight to write guidance for people working in their own industry have created a valuable platform to help maintain high safety standards and share expertise. Our members know what best practice looks like and how to implement it. Together, we’re developing relevant, useable guidance and support for operators to help improve levels of competence and enhance awareness.’


Top of the agenda

‘At present, our drilling and blasting task and finish group is concentrating on developing a self-assessment audit form,’ said Mr Woolley. ‘The plan is to split the document into different sections to include management systems, drilling, surveying and profiling, blasting specifications, and storage and transportation to help ease the process of assuring compliance.

‘Also, we’re currently reviewing the Blasting National Occupational Standards. Once the work on the self-assessment audit form is completed, we will re-evaluate our suite of drilling and blasting toolbox talks. This is to confirm that those available on the QNJAC website are still relevant and that we are using the most appropriate information to develop our resources.

‘In the future, I would like to see the group develop guidance on what good blast area preparation looks like, as this is a recurring challenge for those undertaking drilling and blasting operations.’

Good blast area preparation is a recurring challenge for those undertaking drilling and blasting operations
Good blast area preparation is a recurring challenge for those undertaking drilling and blasting operations


QNJAC is the Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee. It is a multilateral body comprising quarrying and extractive industry representatives of employers, employees, the government regulator (Health and Safety Executive, HSE), professional membership bodies, trade unions, and industry training and educational organizations.

QNJAC’s group of industry volunteers aims to help everyone working in our vital sector to stay safe. Through a series of sub-committees and working groups, the volunteers review regulations, innovations, accident and incident reports, best practices, and new technologies to produce updated guidance; confirmed by HSE’s Publications Governance Group and published on

Together with self-audits, the guidance can support quarrying industry employers in understanding relevant legislation and creating action plans and applying these to their own working environments.

QNJAC working groups

  • Contractors Working Group 

  • Geotechnical Working Group 

  • Leadership and Workforce Engagement 

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing 

  • Plant, Fixed and Mobile

QNJAC task groups

  • Geotechnical Emergency Checklist

  • Geotechnical - Geotechnical Assessment

  • The Use of Drones in Quarries

  • Contractors

‘Explosives in Quarrying’ handbook
‘Explosives in Quarrying’ handbook

Revised Explosives in Quarrying Handbook

Bob Woolley’s work with QNJAC is enhanced from knowledge gained through his role at drilling and blasting and commercial explosives specialists EPC-UK, where he is head of SHE&Q Northern Europe Zone. He is also a trustee on the board of the Institute of Explosives Engineers. Collectively, and with significant input from the Institute of Quarrying, the organizations Bob is involved with have facilitated the release of the third iteration of the ‘Explosives in Quarrying’ handbook.

The revised reference book, launched at the end of 2023, provides insights into the latest technologies and best practices in the field of explosives. It covers subjects including Explosives Basics, Types of Explosives, Initiation Systems, Explosives Legislation, Quarries Regulations, Surveying, Blast Design and Specification, Dangerous Occurrences, Shotfiring, Additional Blasting Techniques, Geology and Blasting, and the Environmental Impact of Blasting.

‘By continuing our commitment to applying and sharing knowledge, publishing practical help and guidance, and altering our advice and recommendations as the drilling and blasting sector evolves, we will make our industry safer, more confident and efficient year on year,’ concluded Mr Woolley.

The next QNJAC Drilling & Blasting Working Group meeting will take place at the end of April 2024. For more information, visit: or connect with QNJAC via its LinkedIn group. 


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