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Parental backing for industry safety campaign

THE parents of two teenage boys killed in separate quarry accidents are backing this year’s Mineral Products Association (MPA) ‘Stay Safe’ campaign to prevent similar tragedies involving thrill-seeking youths.

In 2009 four teenage boys lost their lives in the UK in active or disused quarries, including 15-year-old Ryan Walker, who drowned while swimming with friends in a disused quarry in Ashover, Derbyshire, and 18-year-old Jay Harris, who was walking with friends in a quarry near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, when he fell 100ft to his death.

This year the MPA approached the parents of the victims to back the 2010 campaign and feature in a new hard-hitting video about the effect the accidents have had on the boys’ family and friends.

Ryan Walker’s mother, Tracey, explained why she is supporting the campaign: ‘I don’t want other parents to feel how I feel or go through what our family has gone through. If I can save one person, or change one person’s mind about going in to a quarry, I’ll feel I’ve achieved so much.’

The Stay Safe campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the danger of trespassing in quarries and other operations, was launched ahead of the May bank holiday weekend when quarry managers report an annual surge in quarry trespass by people of all ages.

As part of the campaign, a Facebook page ‘Stay Safe … Stay Out of Quarries’ has been launched to help engage with teenagers, and the MPA has held five press conferences at quarries with trespass problems. In addition, nearly 50 radio interviews took place and television coverage was achieved at a number of sites.  

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: ‘The Stay Safe campaign has evolved over recent years. We’ve moved the focus on to teenagers and specifically teenage boys, who are the biggest risk group for quarry trespass and fatalities. Our members do an excellent job in communicating the risks associated with the industry to younger children, but teenage boys are much more difficult to engage with.’

‘As a result, we have used some very powerful testimony from the family and friends of Jay and Ryan, in the hope that this will deter teenagers from trespass or, at the very least, make them stop and think about the consequences of their actions.’

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