Two companies prosecuted after explosion causes debris to land on public road…
Two companies have been prosecuted after an explosion at a quarry endangered workers and nearby drivers as rocks were hurled 200 metres onto a nearby public road.
The debris from the blast was flung far outside the designated danger zone at Brayford Quarry on 24 February 2011 and a woman who had bravely stopped traffic during the explosion narrowly avoided injury as rocks landed near her position. A workman who had been placed on the edge of the danger zone to act as sentry was also put in danger and had to run for cover as rocks went flying in his direction.
The company responsible for the explosives work and the quarry operator were both prosecuted after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investogation into the incident uncovered serious safety failings.
Barnstaple Magistrates’ Court was told that two cars were damaged by rocks after the blast with one sustaining a dent on the bonnet while the other had its windscreen smashed. Inspectors also discovered a piece of rock weighing 8.5kg on the road as well as six other pieces of rock that might have caused signicant damage.
The explosives company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay an additional £17,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Berkshire-based quarry operator was also fined £20,000 with £14,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Quarries Regulations 1999.
HSE Inspector of Quarries, Mike Tetley, commented after the hearing:
“This was a very serious incident that could easily have led to death or serious injury.
“Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk, and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements.
“Where contractors are involved it is important that appropriate levels of communication and co-operation are in place. It is totally unacceptable for both members of the public and employees to be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks, as happened here in an entirely preventable incident.
“I hope this case sends a clear message to the industry that proper planning and control is required at all times.”
Quarrying is regarded as one of the most dangerous occupations to be involved in with a totsl of 3,250 injuries, including 27 fatalities recorded since 2000.
Author: Julian Roberts
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