'Inspection blitz' to be carried out on dozens of quarries

An “inspection blitz” will be carried out on dozens of quarries next week by the Health and Safety Authority.

'Inspection blitz' to be carried out on dozens of quarries

An “inspection blitz” will be carried out on dozens of quarries next week by the Health and Safety Authority.

Inspectors from the HSA will conduct more than 50 quarry inspections throughout Ireland as part of a quarry safety week campaign that runs from Monday.

HSA chief executive, Dr Sharon McGuinness, urged employers to make quarries safer to work in: “Since 2009, six people have lost their lives in quarries and many more have suffered a serious, debilitating injury."

Quarries are generally noisy, dusty places and some of the work can be very physical - making them a dangerous place to work.

The last quarry death happened in 2016. There were two deaths in 2015; one in 2013 and two in 2009.

According to the HSA, there were 538 mining and quarry accidents between 2009 and 2018.

Last year there were 252 mining and quarrying inspections carried out by the HSA. The authority issued 21 improvement notices or directions and 12 prohibition notices.

Inspectors will ask that a certain activity or operation cease immediately even if a prohibition notice is not already prepared. There is an appeal process if the operator disagrees with the action taken by the inspector.

Dr McGuinness welcomed the support from the Irish Concrete Federation for the safety blitz week.

She said employers, contractors, and self-employed in the sector must all understand that safety is their priority.

Dr McGuinness insisted that the aim of the annual campaign is not to catch anyone out.

Inspectors will focus on the management of safety and the implementation of control measures to eliminate and reduce the risk arising from hazards in quarries.

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

“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 maintenance and testing of brakes.”

Irish Concrete Federation chief executive, Gerry Farrell, said the campaign provides an opportunity for companies to review their safety procedures and implement new initiatives to enhance the safety and well-being of all employees.

Mr Farrell urged quarry managers to review their operations next week, particularly the risk associated with vehicles and machinery.

“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,” he said.

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