Reflecting on Victorian WorkCover Authority Quarry Visits

By on April 16, 2014

ROBERT KELLY – Manager of Earth Resources for VWA reflects on safety in quarries for the 2013/14 financial year.

INTRODUCTION

VWA continued its program of initial quarry site visits to gain an understanding of individual and industry site safety hazards and risk controls. From these visits, risk profiles have been developed which form the basis of future visits. Knowledge gaps were identified in areas of the operator’s workplace safety obligations and risk control management.

As the year progressed the focus increasingly changed to the smaller, independent operators in remote areas.

THE BASIC NUMBERS

  • Visits to quarries – 292 (This figure includes dangerous goods visits)
  • Visits to quarries resulting in Notices – 92
  • The number of Notices issued – 194 (181 Improvement Notices, 11 Dangerous Goods Improvement Notices and 2 Prohibition Notices)
  • The number of Voluntary Compliance – 26
Comprises: Noise, Housekeeping, Ground Condition, Dangerous Goods Storage, Lifting Equipment, Manual Handling, Hazardous Substances and Storage

KEY ISSUES

Traffic Management and Plant Guarding accounted for 46% of the total notices over this period.

Traffic Management and site security improvement notices were featured. This appeared more problematic with visits to smaller regional quarries in the northern and western regions visited in the new year. Deficiencies were found in areas of road safety signage, machine guarding, maintenance, edge protection, site entry signage and security.

Plant Guarding included unguarded rotating equipment as well as insecure area fence guarding and inadequate machine guarding.

Potential high consequence incidents and hazards were identified with an excavator contacting overhead 22kV power lines, water surrounding a 22kV transformer and fixed plant corrosion.

Visits in the later part of the year included smaller operations in which the owner utilises contract operators (extraction, mobile crushing and screening) on a campaign basis. Often these operations were found to be deficient in providing the required level of safety because the contractual arrangements did not provide sufficient safety performance standards.

REPORTABLE INCIDENTS

Over the July 2013 to June 2014 period there were a total of 8 incidents reported.

4/07/2013 Driver slipped and fell from ladder onto drawbar of truck – injured back – hospitalised
13/07/2013 Amenities room air conditioner fire – extinguished by workers
01/08/2013 Excavator contacted 22kv power lines – blacked out local area
30/08/2013 1 metre rock fell onto control room walkway
07/01/2014 Loader engine fire extinguished by employees – no injuries
06/01/2014 Contractor unloaded jack from ute – cut finger
02/05/2014 Quarry tipper truck material wedged at top of tipper causing the truck to roll over no injuries
24/06/2014 Contractor blown / fell off ladder onto gate valve injuring hip – taken to hospital for examination

CONCLUSION

VWA continues its program to visit quarry sites to raise operators’ awareness of their obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations, and where appropriate undertake compliance action. Improvements have been observed in traffic management and plant guarding with better planning, design and implementation of controls.

The next stage of the quarry inspection strategy is the targeting of specific areas linked to injury including ‘body stress’ (manual handling) activities as well as ‘trips, slips and falls’ through the provision of safe systems of work.

VWA were pleased to support the CMPA in the provision of presentations at the CMPA workshops for traffic management and plant guarding during the year and we encourage the CMPA to continue to be a leading association for its members. We look forward to further enhancing our relationship with the CMPA who are a key influencer for safety improvements in the extractives industry.

For a summary of the extractive industries safety and injury claims performance, please refer to the associated article in this publication.

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