MINEXP calls for ‘back to basics’ approach to UK quarry H&S

Last year’s three fatal accidents at UK quarries have put health and safety firmly on the agenda of mineral processing and mineral extractives industry businesses and their employees. It was also a hot topic during the recent British Aggregates Association AGM.
Dewatering Pumps / October 1, 2018
MINEXP's Mike Phillips & Roy Bush.JPG
Mike Phillips & Roy Bush

Mike Phillips and Roy Bush know more than a thing or two about health and safety in UK quarries. Earlier this year Bush, who worked for the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) HM Inspector of Quarries team from 1993 to 2017, and Phillips, a highly experienced quarrying professional and former general manager of the Institute of Quarrying (IQ), established MINEXP. A one-stop shop for the UK mineral processing and mineral extractives industries, MINEXP offers a full range of health and safety services, acts as a primary consultancy for operations and operational efficiencies, and delivers bespoke training to and mentoring of individuals at all levels.

Given their impressive industry track records and recently established consultancy, it was fitting that Bush and Phillips addressed the recent 887 British Aggregates Association AGM, attended by representatives from across the UK minerals extractive industry, on the current adherence to health and safety procedures in the UK mineral extractives sector.

Speaking at the event held in Buxton, Derbyshire, England, Bush said: “Last year was a particularly bad year, with three fatal accidents in the UK quarrying industry [Mountsorrel Quarry, Leicestershire, England; Stainby Quarry, Lincolnshire, England; and Kishorn Quarry, northwest Scotland]. It was unprecedented for something like 10 to 12 years. The last five years prior to 2017 were largely static in terms of fatal accidents. However, we could be entering an era of increased major and fatal accidents.”

Speaking at the same event, Phillips, whose 25 years-plus experience in the minerals industry included stints at Hargreaves Quarries, RMC and CEMEX, prior to his senior role at the IQ, said: “Back in 1993 when I started at Hargreaves Quarries, the HSE published a document ‘Quarry Accidents: 10 Years of Death’. As a young, aspiring quarry manager, I asked myself ‘Do I want to work in an industry that can kill people?’ It shocked me.

“The main causes of accidents in quarries 25 years ago were mobile plant, conveyors, falls from height and slips, trips and falls. These are still the main causes of accidents today. It is really basic stuff that we, as an industry, should be looking at a bit more closely, especially if we are deadly serious about Target Zero [no fatalities or serious accidents in UK quarries].

“We’ve got everything in place when it comes to health and safety, but we still have these fatal and serious accidents. How do we go back to basics? - L118 Quarries Regs [1999] - Reg 7 [HSE] Health and Safety document. Go through and use it and more importantly, talk to colleagues about it.”

Bush added: “L118 is without any shadow of doubt one of the finest pieces of literature on how to run a quarry that has ever been written. I don’t work for the HSE anymore and can say that independently. The guidance in there is second to none.”

During their presentation at the BAA AGM, Bush and Phillips explained how MINEXP’s consultancy packages offer technical services across all levels of the minerals industry, from the smallest operations through to total project management. There’s a friendly inspector service to help businesses prepare for a visit from an official HSE inspector; an independent accident/near-miss investigation service; specialist 8.1.C/D cover; in-company training; specialised training for non-operational staff; continuing professional development (CPD) training and working towards and demonstration of competence, mentoring and auditing.

With more than 40 years’ experience in the UK quarrying sector, Bush started as a technician in an aggregates testing laboratory before spending time in a commercial role prior to moving into profit-responsible quarry and area management. His subsequent 24 years working within HSE’s HM Inspector of Quarries team took him all over the country, from the largest to the smallest quarry operations.

As well as his extensive UK quarrying industry experience, Phillips also worked for RMC at quarries in the United Arab Emirates. He was also site manager for the Hillhead Quarry Exhibition (2008-14) and was a senior member of the team responsible for the planning and delivery of the popular bi-annual event at the Tarmac Hillhead Quarry near Buxton.