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Safety goes global in quarry industry

PLANT - Pressure on manufacturers to make quarry equipment safe goes international

THE QUARRY industry has stepped up the pressure on plant manufacturers to improve safety by raising the issue to a global level.

The Atlantic Alliance, a collection of quarriers, safety bodies and workers' groups from Europe and North America is writing to manufacturers calling for a 'substantial redesign of the access systems of mobile plant used in the quarry industry'. The move is part of the industry's bid to cut accident rates on site to zero, particularly those due to falling from height from large plant.

The alliance, which consists of representatives from Britain's Quarry National Joint Advisory Committee, including the Health and Safety Executive and Quarry Products Association, along with multinational quarriers like Lafarge, has told manufacturers that quarry firms want to work with those who sign up to its programme of best practice.

This development increases the pressure on manufacturers who contend that design changes need to go through proper standards processes.

Quarry users and safety specialists believe that many accidents arising from cab access or maintenance work can be prevented by bet ter design of stairways.

They want to see features like properly inclined stowable stairways on all plant, as opposed to vertical ladders, and provision of more walkways and edge protection to reduce the risk of falling. The Alliance wants manufacturers to address the problems both with retrofittable adaptations and in designs for new machinery.

Its best practice guidelines are being based on guidance currently being finalised by QNJAC, which addresses areas ranging from visibility to provision of emergency exit routes.

Manufacturers reacted with alarm to the original guidance, but are keen to brook a compromise. Construction Equipment Association spokesman Tim Faithfull said: 'We need to be certain that any modifications will not affect other areas such as machine vibration or visibility.'