The HSE describes quarrying as “one of the most dangerous industries to work in”. Nearly 3,500 UK workers have suffered an injury reportable to the HSE since 2000, a figure that includes 29 fatalities.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Hard Target initiative led to a reduction in RIDDOR-reportable injuries in quarries by 76%. The initiative involved collaboration between the HSE, trade associations and industry representatives. These three groups make up the membership of the Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee (QNJAC).
At Hillhead 2010, Judith Hackett, Chair of the HSE, congratulated the industry on the improvement in safety Hard Target had achieved, and introduced Target Zero, a continuation of the drive to reduce injuries in the quarrying sector.
Target Zero is the industry’s pledge to reduce injuries by a further 15% year-on-year from 2010 until 2015. All the major players in the quarrying industry have pledged their allegiance to Target Zero, implementing their own internal strategies to achieve the target reduction in injuries and improvement in safety. These efforts have led to a reduction in the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) reported by the principal quarrying companies in recent years. LTIFR is the main internal indicator of the performance of these firms against their own zero harm targets.
The HSE’s Approved Code of Practice and guidance document ‘Health and safety at quarries – Quarries Regulations 1999’ recommends that interlocks should be included in any risk inspection scheme. Trapped-key interlocks are particularly suited to the quarrying and aggregates industries for two main reasons:
The quarrying sector has a fatality rate 12 times higher than the all-industry average. Any safety solution must be robust and durable, as the harsh working environment places severe demands on both operators and machinery. Trapped key interlocks are resistant to wash-down and cleaning regimes. Figure symbol interlocks are particularly beneficial as, unlike tumbler mechanism locks, their normal operation won’t be compromised by plugged dirt or other substances.
Regular maintenance is required to keep machinery functional, but each round of maintenance introduces a safety risk as access to dangerous parts of machinery is sometimes required. The desire to minimise downtime means the maintenance process needs to be as safe and efficient as possible. Trapped-key technology ensures that the correct procedure is followed every time, improving safety and maximising productivity.
By: James Seel, Marketing Assistant, Castell Safety International Ltd.