18 Sep 2016

Crackdown flagged for unregistered quarries

7:33 am on 18 September 2016

Hundreds of quarries could still be unregistered as a two-year window to register with WorkSafe ends.

The Pyramid Valley quarry where a digger driver was buried in a rock slide.

The Canterbury quarry where digger driver Murray Taylor was buried in a rock slide. Photo: Westpac Rescue

WorkSafe introduced new regulations in 2014, which gave quarries two years to register and update their safety standards.

It says those quarries that remain unregistered are now in line for a crack-down.

Between 2014 and 2015, four men were killed while working at quarries, with two of those at unregistered quarries.

A WorkSafe spokesperson said there could be up to 1200 sites nationwide which could meet the legal definition of a quarry or alluvial mine.

Figures released to RNZ showed 742 quarries had registered with WorkSafe, up from about 500 in December.

WorkSafe also required every quarry to have a certified manager on site.

Chief inspector of extractives Mark Pizey said WorkSafe had done a lot of work to educate the industry about registering before 1 September, so there were no excuses for mines to be operating without doing so.

"We made it clear to the industry that given the time they've had time to notify us of their manager and register on the database that anytime after September first it is likely enforcement action will be taken."

Mr Pizey said quarries could not argue they were unaware of the laws introduced in 2014.

"I think that argument is becoming thin. WorkSafe has been very proactive within the sector, explaining the requirements - we've had meetings and held conferences which were always well attended.

"The majority of quarry operators recognise things needed to be regulated and they're receptive to the changes made," Mr Pizey said.

The industry had an abysmal record over the last few years, he said.

"The work we're doing is to make sure the people managing these quarries are up to standard so we don't see similar statistics again."

Quarry deaths

  • June 2015 - Murray Taylor died after tonnes of sandstone fell on his digger at a North Canterbury quarry. An investigation by WorkSafe found that while the Health and Safety in Employment Act was breached, it was not in the public interest to prosecute as Mr Taylor was the sole director of the company in charge of the work, Heathstock Haulage Ltd.
  • April 2015 - A 25-year-old man died after becoming trapped when a 45-tonne rock cutter rolled at Oropi Quarry in Tauranga. The quarry was ordered to pay $80,000 to his family as compensation, the director of the quarry had to pay $20,000, and the court also fined the quarry $63,000.
  • March 2015 - Scott Baldwin, 43, was crushed to death while operating heavy machinery at at Gordons Valley Lime Company, south of Timaru. The quarry was ordered to pay a fine of $54,000 and $100,000 in reparation to his family.
  • February 2014 - Gavin Stewart, 47, died after reportedly being hit by a truck at Matatoki Quarry, south of Thames.

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