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HSC welcomes new safety target for quarries

BILL Callaghan, chairman of the Heath & Safety Commission, has welcomed a tough new target to cut the number of injuries in the quarrying industry in half by 2005 - the first sector-specific safety target to be announced since the Government launched its 'Revitalising Health and Safety' strategy in June.

The target agreement was signed at a public ceremony at the HSC offices in London on 19 July, where those present included leaders of the main quarry companies, representatives of small firms, training organisations, trades unions and other organisations with an interest in quarrying.

Quarrying currently has about three times the fatal injury rate of the construction industry and 20 times that of British industry as a whole. The new safety target is based on a strategy developed by the Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee (QNJAC) and was agreed by trade associations, the industry training organisation, trades unions and other groups within the industry.

The strategy consists of three main elements:

  • industry-wide education and training programmes to improve the health and safety skills of managers, supervisors, safety representatives and workers. These include developing a passport training scheme for contractors, and designing a health and safety training scheme for worker representatives
  • targeting opinion-formers within the industry to push health and safety higher up the business agenda. They will be encouraged to tackle the key processes, such as the use of vehicles, conveyors and working at heights, where action is needed to cut injury rates
  • a combination of advice, guidance and enforcement activity that the industry needs to stimulate a step change in its health and safety performance, e.g. HSE inspectors checking compliance with the new requirements of the Quarries Regulations 1999 at the sites they visit.

The baseline for the new safety target is the average number of injury reports for the quarrying industry received by the HSE over the period 1995-2000. It is this figure which is to be halved by 2005.

Commenting on the target, Mr Callaghan said: 'The quarrying industry is now giving a much higher priority to health and safety issues. This commitment to drive down the economic and human cost of accidents is in everyone's interests. When I launched 'Revitalising Health and Safety' with the Deputy Prime Minister in June, I issued a challenge to all walks of commerce and industry to develop their own sector-specific targets, agreed between management, unions and workers. This is an excellent example of that partnership approach in action.'

Bill Callaghan will be presenting the Regulators' view of the health and safety challenge in a joint keynote address with David Tidmarsh, managing director of Aggregate Industries, at the Institute of Quarrying's national annual conference in Bristol on 13 October 2000. 

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