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MPA’s Robina Longworth on the UK-based Association’s comprehensive health & safety work

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
July August 2016
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MPA’s Good Practice Guide  and MPA’s Stay Safe campaign
LEFT: A copy of the MPA's Good Practice Guide 2015/16 ABOVE: MPA's Stay Safe campaign signs

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the UK’s aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand businesses. Here, Robina Longworth, the MPA’s Communications and Public Affairs Executive, highlights the Association’s vital and comprehensive work on health and safety.

A key benefit arising from the formation of the MPA over seven years ago is that bringing together 90% of all UK extraction industries has enabled a common approach to improving health and safety for the sector to be developed. Representing 480 members, the MPA is well placed to develop and share campaigns and initiatives in the UK and Europe under the umbrella of Zero Harm.

MPA’s suite of ‘Safer by’ initiatives are the mechanism for delivering change:

  • Safer by Competence is the overarching strategy, setting a series of targets across the sector.
  • Safer by Association is a practical health & safety site evaluation package.
  • Safer by Design addresses the design vacuum that exists between many of the manufacturers of heavy mobile plant and their users.
  • Safer by Sharing facilitates direct peer-to-peer sharing of experience and knowledge.
  • Safer by Partnership commits clients and contractors to work together to tackle health and safety issues.

Good and consistent metrics enable progress to be monitored and targets to be achieved. All MPA members commit to providing quarterly performance data across all their product areas. Trends are reported to the MPA Health and Safety Committee and ultimately Council and Board. It is this transparency on performance that inspires improvement.

Many MPA members have already demonstrated that Zero Harm can be achieved routinely, year on year. Accordingly, the number of reportable injures has declined by 85% since 1999, but Zero Harm to all employees, contractors or visitors on members’ sites remains the key objective.  After achieving the 2009-2014 Hard Target of 50%, in 2015 MPA members committed to a further 65% reduction in Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates across all product groups.

Statistics show that contractors working on the industry’s sites are at disproportionate risk of injury.  That’s why in 2012 MPA launched a Charter to harness both contractors’ and clients minds to work together, coupled with a single MPA database to streamline prequalification by enabling contractors to lodge share and update their credentials with clients. There are now over 4,000 contractors on the database. Regional forums also encourage feedback and sharing of ideas and resources.

Whilst industry in general has been successful in reducing accidents, less importance has traditionally been placed on health and wellbeing. As a result, there are currently 13,000 estimated deaths in the UK due to ill health, compared to 142 fatal accidents.

Last year, Securing Sustainable Health and Wellbeing topped the agenda for the MPA with the launch of a ‘Safer by Association’ Audit Tool for Respirable Crystalline Silica, while also being the theme of the Association’s Health & Safety Conference and Awards 2015. This is an issue of increasing significance for the industry.  MPA built on this at Hillhead 2016 by hosting an exhibition stand which included free health monitoring and a Wellbeing library. In time it is planned that the ‘Healthier by Association’ set of initiatives will mirror the breadth and success of the ‘Safer by Association’ family.

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The MPA's Cycle safe campaign
The MPA's Cycle safe campaign

The MPA’s initiatives support direct employees, contractors and industry drivers. Digital resources include hubs for Health and Safety information - safequarry.com and safeprecast.com and their related phone Apps, alongside publications on sharing good practice and events, including the annual conference and Health and Safety Awards, which last November attracted 151 entries from 44 different organisations.

For the MPA, safety extends beyond members’ sites to the wider community. The organisation is currently campaigning via its Cycle Safe initiative to ensure the safety of Drivers and HGVs and improve road safety and reduce collisions between industry vehicles and vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.

Many MPA members acted early to prepare road safety and MPA is an official partner in Construction Logistics & Cyclist Safety (CLOCS). This brings together all elements of the construction industry to revolutionise the management of work related road risk and embed a road safety culture across the industry as the UK’s population and our use of the road network increases.

The CLOCS Standard has been developed as a common national standard for use by the construction industry to reduce collisions between industry vehicles and vulnerable road users. Implemented by construction clients through contracts, it provides a framework for managing road risk which can be adhered to in a consistent way by construction clients, contractors, the supply chain and hauliers.

The MPA has also launched a Driver’s Handbook for all drivers in the sector to provide a consistent industry standard designed to complement site inductions. The guide will help drivers understand and manage the risks that they face and can create when driving and operating vehicles for work. It is hoped that it will help them make safer choices about the way they drive and behave around vehicles. Commenting, Nigel Jackson, MPA’s Chief Executive said: “The role of industry drivers is critical. They are essential for the delivery of 1 million tonnes of mineral products from over 2000 sites throughout the UK. The handbook provides consistent national Health and Safety guidance for drivers and will complement site specific inductions. We hope that it will make a real difference to site and road safety.”

The MPA’s Stay Safe campaign aims to warn the public about the dangers of trespassing in operational and non-operational quarries and industrial workplaces. 
The key theme for this year’s campaign is raising awareness of the risks around water – in particular quarry lakes.  MPA is working with members and collaboratively with a range of stakeholders – particularly the Fire and Rescue services - to promote drowning prevention and in particular, the dangers of “cold water shock”.  MPA supports the new national Drowning Prevention Strategy which identifies that water-related deaths now exceed fire as one of the main causes of accidental deaths with circa 400 + water-related fatalities each year in the UK. MPA encourages people to visit the Facebook page Stay Safe Stay Out of Quarries https://www.facebook.com/StaySafeStayOutOfQuarries which provides updates on Stay Safe and other relevant campaigns.

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