HSA to launch two week inspection blitz in quarries across Ireland
13th May 2023
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) will carry out a two week quarry safety inspection campaign commencing on Monday 15th May. The focus of the campaign is on safe machinery operation, machinery guarding and maintenance activities.
In the ten-year period 2013-2022 Quarrying, Mining and the associated manufacturing activities in the industry accounted for 8 work-related fatalities in Ireland.
HSA inspectors will be conducting quarry safety inspections focusing on the key hazards that exist when operating quarry machinery or while carrying out machinery maintenance in quarries and associated manufacturing premises. Inspectors will also focus on ensuring that safe work practices and proactive measures are in place to reduce the risk of incidents, including serious or fatal injury.
The Authority is concerned at the high level of incidents that occur as the direct result of:
• Unsafe machinery operation,
• Inadequate guarding or no guarding of hazardous moving machine parts,
• Lack of adequate risk assessments for all maintenance activities, and
• Lack of proper isolation procedures during planned and unplanned maintenance.
On that basis the 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.
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. Quarries and manufacturing plants within quarries are potentially hazardous workplaces due to the large and powerful machinery used on a daily basis.
Hilary Byrne, Senior Inspector, HSA stated on the launch of the campaign that “As with any hazardous workplace environment, we urge employers 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 all receive instruction and safety training relevant to the tasks that are undertaken.”
She continued “The Health and Safety Authority remains committed to improving the safety, health and welfare of all persons involved in the quarrying industry and these inspections are a key part of that effort and we welcome the support from the Irish Concrete Federation (ICF) for the safety campaign.”
Backing the HSA’s quarry safety blitz, Irish Concrete Federation’s Chief Executive, Gerry Farrell, said “ICF welcomes this important HSA inspection campaign and it’s an opportunity for companies to review their safety procedures, together with their employees, and implement new initiatives to enhance the safety and well-being of all in the workplace. It is critical that our members remain focused on the fundamental safety risks associated with quarrying throughout the year. Therefore we greatly welcome the active support from our members for this campaign.”
During the inspections, HSA Inspectors will be providing information, advice and making employers aware of resources available to help them reduce the risk of incidents involving machinery particularly during machinery maintenance.
For further information and resources on quarry safety visit HSA website at the following links:
Safe Quarry Legislation
Safe Quarry – A Guide for Quarry Workers