Victorian Workcover Authority (VWA)

By on April 16, 2014

Discussion Paper – Quarries

ROBERT KELLY, Manager of Earth Resources for VWA, provides an extract from the Discussion Paper on Quarries.

AT the June Earth Resources Tripartite Safety Forum, of which the CMPA is an active member, the finalised Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) Quarrying Industry Discussion Paper was released. This is the first time a paper of this type has been provided to our external stakeholders. The paper was created to provide an overview of the impact of quarrying industry related injuries on the WorkCover insurance scheme. It also contained information on the VWA’s prevention activity undertaken to address workplace injuries in quarries over the past five years.

In Summary:

Compared to the overall industry profile in Victoria the quarrying industry is small. According to VWA data there are nearly 900 quarry tenements in Victoria with over 500 operating at any given time. The industry has been steadily growing with quarries ranging from small, family owned in remote and regional areas to large quarries operating closer to Melbourne.

This industry is small, both from a claim and remuneration perspective, however the percentage of claimants who hadn’t returned to work within 13 weeks is high and adds considerably to the cost of a claim for quarries

The figure above shows the 2012/13 percentage of claims and remuneration in quarries compared to the 2012/13 Strategic focus sub industries

Since the VWA assumed administration for the Earth Resource Industries in 2008, it has been focused on improving the quarry industry. The focus has been on knowledge and compliance on workplace risks and hazards through stakeholder engagement, inspector compliance visits targeting machinery guarding, falls, safe system of work, prosecutions and the development of guidance on the prevention falls from quarry faces and dump trucks. Below is just some of the information available in the paper that you can discuss in your workplace to reinforce which enhance the requirements to keep each other safe.

OH&S performance at a glance

Key Statistics for quarries

Key findings identified in the paper include:

  • Truck drivers and labourers account for the majority of injured workers
  • Over the past three years (2010/11-12/13) manual handling has been the main way workers are being injured (36% of claims), followed by ‘slips, trips and falls’ (22%)
  • In 2012/13 there were on average inspectorate 3.1 visits per week to quarry employers with around 3.2 notices issued weekly
  • Of the 373 notices issued over three years, 39% of notices cited OHS regulations. The most frequent regulation cited focused on plant (63%), followed by prevention of falls (6%).
  • Injuries in quarries are due predominantly to manual handling and slips, trips and falls, however, inspector notices are primarily issued on plant and prevention activity has for the most part focus on plant and equipment
  • Although quarries are at the lower end of scheme costs, costs have risen each year for the last three years with total costs equaling 3.7m in 2012/13

Over the past three years, there were 169 claims by workers in quarries and 66% of these injuries occurred to the 5 occupations listed below. The highest volume of claims were lodged by Truck Drivers with 16% of the total claims, these workers had injuries resulting from manual handling and slips trips and falls. The injuries to Truck drivers could have occurred driving both on and offsite of the workplace. The injuries resulting in claims to truck drivers decreased in the last financial year. Labourers and related workers also had a large volume of claims (15%) and claims for this occupation rose in the same period.

Standardised claims by financial year

The injuries in quarries were due predominately to ‘body stressing’ (manual handling) with 33% of claims attributed to this mechanism in 2012/13. This has reduced in the past four years, in 2010/11 there were 44% of total injuries.

Plant related injuries accounted for 27% of total claims for the industry in 2012/13, compared to 16% of Scheme claims.

Trucks, lorries and semis were cited in 19% of plant claims in quarries in 2012/13. Self-propelled plant was the second highest cause of plant related injuries.

Overall, the outcome of the injuries in quarries resulted in musculoskeletal damage (58%) or fractures (13%). The majority of injuries by body location are occurring to the ‘knee’ 12% (20 claims), followed by ‘lower back’ 11% (19 claims) and ‘fingers’ 9%’ (16 claims).

There has been one fatality in the industry in 5 years. In 2010, a 49 year old male worker was killed at a sand extraction operation.

The above is just a small portion of information contained within the discussion paper and the VWA intends to produce periodic ‘snapshots’ to track and inform you of your sectors performance. For more information about the operational activities of the VWA during 13/14 please refer to the associated article in the publication.

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