Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is carrying out a two week quarry safety inspection campaign, with the focus 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. 25 Improvement Notices and 23 Prohibition Notices were issued over the May campaign, with the majority relating to guarding issues.
Hilary Byrne, Senior Inspector, HSA 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 ten-year period 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 minimise 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’s 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 prioritise carrying out risk assessments. It is critical that our members remain focused on the fundamental safety risks associated with quarrying throughout the year.”