Whilst quarry maintenance is not really something that is on the radar for many people here in Victoria, in other parts of Australia it is incredibly important for ensuring that workers are kept safe at all times. A company known as Tarmac, which is based out of the UK, conducted a study in 2011 in which they found that many of the maintenance-related accidents that were occurring in their own sites could have been avoided by simply improving worker competency.
Tarmac actually identified that 61% of its quarry maintenance-related injuries involved the use of small tools and equipment. They determined that this was, more often than not, the fault of the workers and not of the tools or of some natural disaster that was unavoidable. The company took action to improve the competency of their upkeep teams in the hopes that injuries would be significantly less in 2012 and the years following.
- They set up a bi-annual assessment of maintenance employees competency, identifying where gaps lay and creating an individual performance development team.
- They established Maintenance Section Leaders (MSL) forums, which meet four times a year to share best practices, discuss common issues, and to agree on key messages and strategies for the future.
- They developed a detailed Toolbox Talk for the upkeep teams to refer to. It was required by a new policy for all relevant workers to carry this booklet around when on the job.
- They introduced a maintenance management system to remove the risk from unplanned breakdowns. This system would track when repairs and services were conducted.
By completing something similar within your own company, your quarry maintenance team is likely to experience a number of benefits, including:
- A reduction in the amount of lost time and non lost time injuries occurring amongst the team, as well as the associated costs of these injuries (medical and workers compensation).
- A reduction in the number of categories of maintenance related injuries, such as those occurring as a result of small tools or those occurring as a result of equipment.
- All maintenance workers having a personal development plan that takes their individual circumstances into account, also reducing the number of injuries occurring.
- A proactive and engaged team of Maintenance Section Leaders who will spend the year researching best practices and problems that workers are likely to encounter onsite.
- Development of the comprehensive Toolbox Talk documentation that the workers are required to read and carry around with them onsite in case they are face with something unfamiliar.
- Improved quarry availability, leading to reduced complaints from clients and workers, as well as reduced wastage caused by the site not being in full operation.
Whilst quarry maintenance might seem like an impossible task that simply cannot be achieved in any sort of successful capacity, you need to start looking at it from another perspective. By improving the competency of your workers and others who are involved with the upkeep process, you can ensure that there is a significant reduction in the number of injuries occurring and that your quarry is able to work at its optimum.