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Articles from OH&S - EQUIPMENT & SERVICES (256 Articles)

MinEx is encouraging operators of small, unregistered quarries to identify themselves for safety education.
MinEx is encouraging operators of small, unregistered quarries to identify themselves for safety education.

Safety council on hunt for small, unregistered quarries

The New Zealand extractive industry is undergoing a wave of health and safety reform after four workplace fatalities, three of which occurred in quarries.

As previously reported by Quarry, a series of quarry worker fatalities in 2015 sparked calls for stronger health and safety legislation for the extractive industries.

The first two incidents occurred within less than a month of each other: 43-year-old Scott Baldwin was killed in March 2015 in a machinery accident and 24-year-old Tane-Hill Ormsby died in April when his rock cutter rolled over. Fifty-six-year-old Murray Taylor was also killed in June after being engulfed by rock.

Mario Lelina, a 30-year-old man who had been operating machinery at an alluvial gold mine in Waikaia, was later added to the extractive industries death count in November.

Chris Baker, chairman of New Zealand’s National Health and Safety Council for the Mining and Quarry Industry (MinEx), said two of the fatalities had occurred at “small unregistered sites, where health and safety practices can sometimes be patchy to say the least”.

To address this issue, MinEx and WorkSafe New Zealand began working together to identify all unregistered quarries.

“We know of around 500 registered quarries around New Zealand but there may be twice that many. These can present the most risk,” Baker stated.

“Small, unregistered quarries may be on the back of farms, forestry blocks or a rural property. While the owners may not be generating a lot of aggregate or lime, they still use machinery and sometimes explosives which demand proper health and safety practices by those working there.”

Education key to safety

In a media statement, MinEx called on the general public to assist in identifying all unregistered quarries and encouraged small quarry operators to step forward so that they could be educated on the risks associated with the extractive industries.

“They need to know about the critical importance of looking after themselves and anyone working on a quarry,” Baker explained. “Just because you’ve operated for years with few accidents doesn’t mean it is safe. There are also new liabilities and penalties for operators under the Health and Safety at Work Act which comes into force in April.”

MinEx published a document entitled Am I a Quarry Operator? to clarify confusion around what constituted a quarry. WorkSafe New Zealand also released Good Practice Guidelines for quarrying, open cast and alluvial mining late last year. It was said to be the first WorkSafe health and safety document specifically targeted at the New Zealand quarrying and surface mining sector.

“Many in the quarry industry are working to improve their training and lift health and safety standards,” Baker noted. “Unfortunately, our biggest risks are posed by those who are simply unaware that new requirements may apply to them or are dragging the chain on what is necessary to keep people safe.”

New leadership

In related news, WorkSafe New Zealand recently appointed a new chief inspector to oversee its engagement, education and enforcement of the extractives sector.

Mark Pizey – who is currently general manger of Solid Energy’s Pike River mine re-entry project – will fill the position of WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief inspector of extractives at the end of April.

“This is a critical role in WorkSafe’s ongoing commitment to achieving at least a 25 per cent reduction in workplace fatalities and serious injuries in New Zealand workplaces by 2020,” WorkSafe New Zealand chief executive Gordon MacDonald commented.

He added that “very substantial progress” had been made in improving health and safety outcomes in the extractives sector under outgoing chief inspector Tony Forster.

More reading
NZ launches guidelines in response to fatalities
Quarry death intensifies calls for stronger regulation
Quarry deaths spark calls for reform

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Monday, 26 August, 2019 12:59pm
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