Anthony Beasley is an expert with nearly two decades in the development of heavy industry risk and safety management programs. He talks to Quarry about the supervision and safety responsibilities of members of Australia’s quarrying sector.
The Australian extractive industry is a major part of the construction sector’s supply chain, with many quarrying companies aiming to stay ahead of the game by boosting productivity and efficiency.
At times, the desire for higher outputs can lead to an equal desire for a higher tolerance to risk or oversights in certain health and safety practices.
However, taking higher risks can have serious consequences for workers and businesses.
In 2020, Dr Sean Brady issued a report on behalf of the Queensland Government – Review of all fatal accidents in Queensland mines and quarries from 2000 to 2019 – which highlighted the impacts that the lack of effective risk management can have in the quarrying sector.
The report found that quarries in Queensland suffered a serious accident frequency rate of three (3.0) per million hours worked compared to the mining industry average of one (1.0) accident per million hours worked in 2018-2019.
However, Dr Brady also found that the reporting of high potential incidents had declined in the same period, suggesting that potentially some safety issues were not being reported in quarries.
There have been a wide range of suggestions about how this can be improved, but it is ultimately at the discretion of quarry operators and supervisors to “lead from the front” with positive change.
INVERSELY PROPORTIONATE RISKS
Jarah Corporate is a specialist consultancy in providing risk and safety management systems for heavy industries including quarrying, mining, construction and civil works projects.
The company provides value adding control management systems into the daily routines of people and operations to prevent any oversights.
“It is important operations of all sizes invest in appropriate safety systems to avoid long-term cost and incidence or injury,” said Anthony Beasley (pictured), the director of Jarah Corporate, said.
Jarah Corporate is currently working with the Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) to develop leadership-based training for quarry supervisors and managers.
“The IQA have engaged us to assist with the process of developing leadership-based training for supervisors and managers across topics including legislative obligations through to day-to-day tools to make the job of supervising more enjoyable and easier to maintain,” Beasley said.
He and his team will work with the IQA to encourage reflections on safety behaviours with people in the industry, while providing valuable knowledge to assist supervisors.
“There’s room for improvement. Supervisors and managers have an obligation to themselves and others to work, within environmental licences productively and sell high quality product,” Beasley said.
“My involvement with the IQA is in the safety and leadership space – I’ll be providing a program that will also supply useful, handy tools that will make their jobs easier and make ‘good’ supervisors be ‘great’ supervisors.”
Supervision is a key area to tackle in the quarrying industry. Beasley – who has provided supervisor and leadership training for the past 15 years in the infrastructure and extractive industries – explained the role needs to be supported fundamentally by management.
“The whole production versus safety dilemma is a big issue. Supervisors are the meat in the sandwich – I sometimes think they should be called superheroes, not supervisors, because of the expectations on them to be all things to all people,” he said.
“It’s important that supervisors are given the respect, tools and ongoing training to be effective.
“It’s almost the case that if they always do what they’ve always done, they’ll always get what they’ve always got. Unless there are changes, we will continue to see the outcomes as highlighted in the Brady report.”
On top of these issues, supervisors must maintain systems and records which can also impact successful risk management outcomes.
Beasley proposed that the most effective way to combat red tape is to build an effective system rather than sorting through an excessive amount of documents.
“There’s this great expectation that a system requires copious amounts of complex documents. It doesn’t have to be like that at all,” Beasley said.
He said introducing the correct system into a workplace can lead to a flow-on effect that can improve worker compliance and greatly improve risk management.
“The easiest way of cutting through [the red tape] is to build a system that is fit for purpose and protects the organisation and its people,” Beasley said.
“You don’t need verbose or over the top systems. You need a system that is like a Swiss army knife – something that is handy and useful.
“That’s what the regulators want. They will want to see an alignment of what is being documented, put into practice and actually being used to improve safety.”
Beasley said these systems should reflect the basis of an operation rather than just “ticking a box”.
“Systems are like a ripple effect,” he explained. “You drop a stone into a pond, and there can be different ripples – these are documented physical controls, policies, plans, standards, procedures and forms, etc, that are all based on risk and using the hierarchy of controls.
“You need a system not just for compliance – compliance is a by-product of an effective system,” he said.
“The system needs to reflect the operation so that it is operated systematically in a safe and internally compliant manner first, then shore this up with compliance to legislation.”
Beasley said risks need to be avoided to prevent unnecessary costs.
“You’re in business because of customers,” he said. “To meet customer requirements, you need to deliver a consistent, quality product – to do that you need established and useful systems of work and you need workers to be doing that work safely.
“Injured workers, damaged equipment or poor products cost money and reputations. It’s not rocket science, it’s effective management of the business when injuries and stop work can occur.”
ASSURANCE VS CONTROL
Beasley said Jarah Corporate’s work with the IQA will help supervisors understand the best methods to improve their risk management practices.
In particular, Beasley said it’s better to have a quality assurance approach instead of just a quality control approach.
“So many people aren’t prepared to have assertive conversations with their work teams or their bosses,” he said.
“Be prepared to have these sometimes ugly conversations – and to challenge the norm.
“If there’s a flaw in quality production, quality control enables you to continue to produce with that flaw. Quality assurance enables you to produce by eliminating that flaw. We need a quality assurance approach rather than solely a quality control approach.
“With quality assurance – you walk past, you realign it. With quality control, you walk past, you accept it.”
Beasley also encouraged members of the industry to join the IQA, which serves as a useful platform to improve workplace practices by bettering the industry.
“I do encourage readers to get involved with the IQA – they’re striving to meet the needs of the industry, and they respond to those needs,” Beasley said. “It makes sense for people to get involved.”
For more information about Jarah Corporate’s services, visit jarahcorp.com.au
Anthony Beasley can also be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org