Quarry Industry Appeals for Support Over Safety Message
FOLLOWING last weekend’s tragic events at Paul’s Quarry near Annalong in Co Down where two people died, the Quarry Products Association NI has appealed for everyone’s support in getting the important message out to young people, particularly teenagers, that old, disused and working quarries are dangerous.
QPANI is the principal trade association representing Northern Ireland’s aggregates and quarry products industry.
QPANI, Regional Director, Gordon Best said: “Our deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of Kevin O’Hare and Colin Polland who died so tragically. This tragedy must be a reminder to us all about the dangers of deep, cold bodies of water that collect in old disused quarries, of which Northern Ireland has hundreds of. We are appealing to everyone of influence, including the media, to help pass on this important message to young people – “STAY SAFE… STAY OUT”.
The potential hazards that people expose themselves to are:
- Swimming in quarry lakes that can have very cold water even on a hot day in the middle of summer. Strong swimmers have drowned in quarries due to the unexpected impact that the extreme cold has had on their bodies.
- The water in quarry lakes can be very deep and shelving, and exit from the water may only be possible in a few places. There may also be pumps working or currents that can drag you under the water.
- There can be concealed underwater obstructions and other hazards that can seriously injure swimmers or individuals jumping into the water – tombstoning into quarry lakes is not safe.
- Tunnelling into piles of sand or playing on stockpiles exposes you to the risk of sudden collapses or movements that can easily bury you.
- Walking near the edge of quarry faces exposes you to the risk of serious falls as the edges can be unstable and collapse unexpectedly or sheer faces be obstructed by vegetation.
- Climbing or walking near rock faces can expose you to the risk of rock falls.
- Surfaces in quarries that may look solid, such as the surface of a silt pond, can suddenly break and act like quick sand sucking you down.
- Trail and quad biking in a quarry exposes riders to risks from unstable terrain, unexpected obstructions.
- Young people on bikes or on foot may not be visible to operators of large machinery, or they may not appreciate that the driver cannot see them.
- Quarries can often be located in remote sites where mobile reception is poor and there is no one on hand to help in the event of an accident.
Gordon Best, added: ”Our Association has dedicated a lot of time and resources every year to our “Stay Safe” campaign. A recently completed survey of UK quarry sites showed that over half of the respondents had experienced problems with trespass in the last 12
“The survey also analysed the main reasons for trespass. The most common was theft, usually of cables and fuel at 55%. Other reasons included recreational activities such as walking ( 40%) trail and quad bike riding ( 23% ), swimming (22% ), wildlife spotting (15%) and rock climbing ( 8%).
“Our industry has worked extremely hard to deter trespassers through fencing off operational quarries, erecting warning signs and working with schools and youth groups to educate young people about the hazards. However many of the old quarries across Northern Ireland have been left unregulated and with easy access. There now needs to be collective action to make sure we do all we can do improve safety at these old sites. We will be meeting with Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, on the 18 June to discuss how other agencies can support us in getting this very important message out to our young people.
“We will be calling for the setting up of a working group led by the DOE, of all relevant stakeholders including the local Councils, school representatives, HSENI, PSNI and ourselves representing the quarry industry. The purpose of this working group will be to ensure that every young person in Northern Ireland hears this important message and that steps are taken to identify ownership of old disused quarries and other isolated bodies of water and that urgent steps are taken in line with the legislation to improve safety and reduce the risks at these sites.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdgN_MGu8xs Story of death of Jay Harris and Ryan Walker
In addition to the videos there are other resources that are available to help support community and schools engagement work. The Mineral Products Association website provides a summary of these http://www.mineralproducts.org/youth_playsafe01.htm . The majority of the resources are available to download or access on-line for free.
There are more than 1,300 quarries and related operations across the UK. In addition, there are many disused quarries, which pose particular safety problems because they are not generally manned.
The number of operational quarries in Northern Ireland is 165, and these provide 15 million tonnes of aggregate a year.