Quarry workers are particularly exposed to the risk of accidents at work. The HSE reports that since 2000, over 3250 quarry workers have been injured at work, 27 of which were fatal. Quarry workers are twice as likely to be killed as those in construction, and thirteen times more likely than workers in the manufacturing sector, making it one of the most dangerous jobs.
Why is quarrying classed in the dangerous jobs list?
The use of large earth-moving vehicles and machines, the handling of explosives and heavy loads, ever-present airborne dust, and simply working on dangerous sites, are all aspects of quarrying that increase the risk of both accidents and occupational diseases. A significant proportion of fatalities in the quarrying sector are associated with maintenance work, the use of vehicles and fixed machinery, and falls from height. Many accidents happen during maintenance work, and these might affect not only maintenance staff, but also other workers on site.
Quarries must be properly inspected and maintained to ensure the health and safety of all workers on site. Maintenance activities at quarries range from the maintenance of machines, equipment and vehicles, to the keeping of roadways on site in good order, attending to such matters as providing edge protection and securing excavations.
Quarry maintenance workers are exposed to many hazards, which make this one of the most dangerous jobs, including frequent and heavy lifting, noise and vibration, and hazardous substances such as oil, gas, hydraulic fluid, antifreeze, and welding fumes. They work in awkward positions, and often have to use high-pressure hoses and vessels, or work on machines that are still running.
Many fatalities and serious injuries at quarries happen during the cleaning and adjustment of machinery while it is still running, or due to the unexpected start-up of equipment while it is being worked on. According to the German Accident Insurance Institution, 36% of all fatal accidents among maintenance workers are caused in this way, exacerbated by such factors as machine operating errors, inadequate safety measures, and poor communication.
A guide to safe working in a quarry:
- Establish safe work procedures, incorporating manufacturer’s recommendations, to ensure that workers are not exposed to hazards when carrying out maintenance or repair.
- Ensure that all workers are trained in established safe work procedures and that they follow them.
- Before beginning work, clear the area of trip and fall hazards.
- Provide safe access to all work areas.
- Lock and tag electrical equipment and secure mobile equipment before repair work begins.
If you’ve been injured as the result of working in a quarry, and it wasn’t your fault, then you may be entitled to work accident compensation. Contact Accident Advice Helpline today free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no obligation advice about making a claim.
Date Published: December 9, 2013
Author: David Brown