The tragic fatality at a Canterbury limestone quarry earlier
this month has highlighted the risk of non-compliance with health
and safety standards for the extractive industry.
Under the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining Operations and
Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2013
(Regulations), a quarry owner must appoint a
quarry manager, who must hold a Certificate of Competence. This
requirement came into force on 1 January 2015. For people who
already held a current Certificate of Competence under the previous
regulations, there is a transitional period through to 1 January
2016 for those holders to undergo the additional training required
for the new certificate.
The certification process is designed to ensure that operators
have the appropriate training and knowledge to manage and supervise
a quarry operation safely. It includes a number of modules covering
how to operate a site, how to use explosives, and how to respond to
any incident. It also requires the person to hold a first aid
certificate, and to undertake continuing professional
Initial reports suggest that the quarry was not being operated
in an acceptable way, and that the manager would have been taught
to use better methods if he had undergone the training to obtain
the Certificate of Competence.
Quarrying operations were exempted from the stricter regime for
the monitoring of mines, which was put into place after the Pike
River disaster. However, tighter safety guidelines are in the
pipeline for the quarry industry.
One significant issue is that there is no centralised register
of all quarry operations in New Zealand, so there is no simple way
to ensure that all operators have the required certificates. It has
been suggested that a local authority be required to notify
WorkSafe when they grant a resource consent to a quarry, as a way
to ensure that WorkSafe is aware of all operations.
An acknowledgment of the importance of health and safety, and
compliance with the legal requirements, may have been enough to
prevent this recent incident. Hopefully lessons will have been
learnt by others in the extractive industry.
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