Quarry worker calls it a day ? in his 90s

Acco Stone Quarry, based in Blacksburg, Viriginia in the US, recently farewelled earthmoving veteran Charles “Hamp” Vest who finally retired at the age of 93.

Vest had worked at the Salem Stone Corporation-owned quarry since he was 71, when he first attempted to retire. His involvement as a bulldozer operator and truck driver in the earthmoving business stretched back to 1949, when he was just 28.

Remarkably, Vest continued to work in quarrying after losing his hand to cancer in the 1950s. He used a prosthetic hook on his left arm instead.

Acco Stone Quarry manager Dennis Tawney told The Roanoke Times that despite the loss of his hand, Vest regularly put in more than 40 hours a week at the quarry and was never late. Tawney added that he had never been concerned that Vest – who he described as having the energy of a teenager – would not be able to perform a task.

Vest was said to have trained a number of truck and bulldozer operators of varying ages – including some who were in their seventies – and according to a separate report by The Roanoke Times, Vest himself had continued to operate a large dump truck on the site until he was 90.

When The Roanoke Times asked Vest in May last year why he had continued to work into his nineties, he offered three reasons: in order to support two of his granddaughters whom he had raised with his wife, because he genuinely enjoyed the work – and simply because he could.

No age limits to value
Institute of Quarrying Australia board member Leanne Parker, who is the manager of employee relations for Hanson Australia and also a director of the resources and infrastructure industry skills council SkillsDMC, told Quarry that there were hundreds of quarry workers in Australia who could traditionally retire tomorrow but who – like Vest – loved their work and preferred to continue.

Parker added that, given the lack of young people seeking to pursue a career in quarrying, it was extremely important for the industry to retain older workers and to recognise their experience and knowledge base.

“Older workers have the benefit of intimately knowing their quarry and are very happy to teach the next generation,” Parker explained. “They are patient, tolerant and knowledgeable. They can diagnose a breakdown and recommend a solution quickly.

“There are always safety considerations but with improved technology and good communication, older workers can make a significant contribution,” Parker added. “Value has no age limit.”

The original report on Vest’s retirement is available via

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