This year the Institute of Quarrying invited Tony Forster, Chief Inspector Mines and Extractives (Mines, Tunnels & Quarries), High Hazard Unit, WorkSafe New Zealand to inspect the sites of the nominations received for the Winstone Aggregates Safety Award. The inspections were carried out in conjunction with the Jim Macdonald Memorial Lecture Tour.

Johnny Dickson flanked by Tony Forster and Andrea Pidcock.

Johnny Dickson is flanked by Tony Forster Chief Inspector – Extractives, and Andrea Pidcock, General Manager of Fletcher Building Aggregates Division (Winstone Aggregates [NZ] and Rocla Quarry Products [AUS]).

This year’s winner was Dicksons Transport & Quarries, Glenbervie Quarry, Whangarei.

Tony made some very useful comments based on his observations, and these are presented below.

“The winner was outstanding in demonstrating everything that makes New Zealand industry great. A fantastic work ethic and real pride in the business. The common feature of all the quarry sites who put themselves forward for nomination was their overtly positive attitude towards embracing good sensible safe working methods and a absolute willingness to discuss and engage with the Regulator. That is going to be a key element going forward at the rate of change we need to achieve to keep pace with the expectations of improvements in health and safety generally, and the socialisation of mining and quarrying regulations and guidance in particular. Clearly there was a difference in sophistication between the larger sites and smaller privately owned operations but pride of ownership was another common theme.

I hope to see a larger cohort submitting applications next year.

Matter for consideration (not necessarily typical of the sites visited but touched upon as topics for consideration) ; these included:-

Vehicle Safety:
Positive separation by design between light and heavy vehicles. Being ‘aware’ of an issue is not sufficient. Too much reliance on ‘soft’ control measures (human factors). Better use of modern technology, reversing cameras, electronic ‘blind spot’ elimination systems, visibility aids such as high-vis’ marking on sides and roofs of Landcruisers, buggy whips with flags fitted at the correct height – in line of sight, careful one-way traffic management and strict adherence to speed limits, use of separate parking areas for private, light commercial, and heavy trucks.

Conveyor Guarding and Emergency stops:
Most people will be aware now that we cannot tolerate unguarded conveyors. None seen on visits to sites judged. Rapid move by mining and quarrying industry towards nip-guards incorporated into return roller, delivery roller, snub roller and loop take up systems. Emergency stops should be fitted adjacent to high risk areas; ideally at the end of each properly tensioned pull wire. Having a central isolation point is not sufficient.

Conveyor and Crusher isolation systems:
Well demonstrated on many of the sites. Very encouraging to see good use (multi-hasp padlock / paperwork) and understanding of effective isolation systems. Those that do not have such systems need to start taking this very seriously. Much better use of warning signs required.

Ponds and deep water:
Provision of fencing and life preservers. Re-design of pumping arrangements to minimise drowning hazard.

Air quality issues:
Inhalable quartz – have hazards been assessed? What sampling is being done? Welding fumes – are extraction ventilation systems being used? If not, why not?

Brake testing:
What format is used? There should be clear documented brake test standards. “Simret” (or similar) – deceleration graphs expected at larger sites. Dynamic distance measuring at smaller sites with smaller vehicles.

Lifting equipment:
All lifting equipment should be inspected and properly tagged. Some ‘differing’ standards witnessed.

Use of eye protection by fitted Perspex guards to grinders and vertical drills, and lathes fitted with spring loaded chuck keys (potential for very serious injury)

Emergency arrangements:
What contingency arrangements are in place to enable persons a second means of egress from vehicles on fire (what fire suppression systems are fitted)? How would an ill person be recovered from the cab of a large Prime Mover or a 777 dump truck?

It was a real privilege to take part in the Jim Macdonald lecture programme and judge the quarry sites competing for the Winstone Aggregates Safety Award. I hope you found my contribution useful.”

Kind regards,