The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is carrying out a two week quarry safety inspection campaign, starting this week. The focus of the campaign is on vehicle and pedestrian safety in quarries and associated manufacturing plants.
According to the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) there are approximately 500 quarry developments operating throughout Ireland. There are two main types – rock quarries and sand and gravel pit quarries, both of which use heavy and large machinery.
Over the past ten years (2012 – 2021) there were eight fatalities arising from incidents associated with quarries. Since 2020, two fatalities in the quarrying industry involved vehicles.
In the ten-year period (2012 – 2021) there were 576 non-fatal injuries arising from incidents associated with quarrying activity. To date in 2022 there has been 55 such incidents.
HSA inspectors will be focusing on safe work practices and ensuring proactive measures are in place to reduce the risk of incidents, including serious or fatal injury. An important element of the inspections will concentrate on designated pedestrian routes for workers and non-workers/visitors to quarry sites.
Inspectors will be ensuring that quarry operators are:
- providing a site specific traffic management plan or traffic safety rules which are documented and focus on segregation of vehicles and pedestrians,
- providing adequate physical barriers in place to segregate pedestrians from vehicles in high-risk areas,
- providing designated signposted parking areas for employees, customers, large and light vehicles,
- providing designated safe loading areas,
- providing an inspection, maintenance and testing scheme for all vehicles and work equipment in the quarry,
- ensuring appropriate safety devices are fitted and maintained on vehicles, and
- ensuring safe driving and working practices.
Launching the campaign, Hilary Byrne, Senior Inspector with the HSA stated, “Manufacturing plants within quarries are busy workplaces with both pedestrians and large machinery working side-by-side. These workplaces are potentially hazardous, however, all hazards and risks are measurable and manageable and we are asking employers to fulfil their duty of care to their employees, contractors and any visitors to quarries.
“As with any hazardous workplace environment, we are highlighting to employers the requirement to actively carry out risk assessments and put in place appropriate control measures including safe ways of working. The outcome of these risk assessments must be communicated to all those involved in the work while ensuring they receive instruction and safety training relevant to the tasks that are undertaken.”
The HSA continues to work closely with the Irish quarry industry and employer groups to reduce the injury rates at quarries. During this campaign, HSA Inspectors will also be providing information, advice and making employers aware of HSA resources available to help them reduce the risk of incidents involving vehicles and ensuring there are safe and designated pedestrian routes.
For further information and resources on quarry safety see the following HSA website links: