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June 27, 2012

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Partnership the focus for quarries sector initiative

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has developed a new health and safety initiative aimed at reducing the number of injuries and cases of ill health among contractors in the quarries sector, as part of its pursuit of a ‘Zero Harm’ strategy.

Launched last week at the Hillhead exhibition for quarrying, recycling and heavy-construction equipment, ‘Safer by Partnership’ is one of a family of ‘Safer by…’ initiatives, which support the MPA’s ‘Safer by Competence’ policy.

‘Safer by Competence’ sets a series of targets aimed at delivering assurances in the competency of employees and contractors working in the sector.

Said MPA chief executive Nigel Jackson: “MPA members need to be able to demonstrate contractors’ and sub-contractors’ competence with the same degree of rigour as if the contractors were directly employed. It is in recognition of the key role that contractors play in the achievement of ‘Zero Harm’ that we have developed and launched ‘Safer by Partnership’.”

MPA statistics show that contractors are at disproportionate risk of occupational injury. Of the fatalities that occurred at MPA members’ sites between 2000 and 2011, two-thirds were suffered by contractors. Additionally, the number of contractor lost-time incidents (LTIs) increased between 2009 and 2011, despite 10 years of overall continuous improvement in pursuit of ‘Zero Harm’.

The action plan for the ‘Safer by Partnership’ initiative is built around the following six principles:

  1. Launch a Contractors’ Charter, which will harness contractors and clients to work together and contribute to the achievement of ‘Zero Harm’;
  2. Develop a single contractor database, which will streamline pre-qualification by enabling contractors to share their credentials with clients;
  3. Share ideas, gain feedback and review progress via regional contractor forums;
  4. Share a toolkit of vital resources, including statistics, publications, web links and competence mapping;
  5. Improve knowledge of working practice in the industry so that performance can be improved; and
  6. Work closely with other relevant stakeholders so that the ‘Safer by Partnership’ initiative is widely supported and successful.

Colin Mew, Principal Inspector – National Quarries Inspection Team HSE, endorsed the MPA’s efforts in setting the benchmark for its members. “It’s actually quite a brave move, I think, for a trade association to ask such a thing of its membership,” he remarked. “But I think it’s also one that the enlightened moral majority have given full support to, so credit must go to both the MPA and its membership for that.”

The MPA’s ‘Safer by…’ series of initiatives contributed to the Association’s recent triumph in winning the RoSPA SME Assistance Trophy.

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