Breedon Trading Ltd has been fined £300,000 for safety breaches after fly rock from a blast at the Cwt-y-Bugail slate quarry in Wales put workers lives at risk.
One quarry operative had to run for cover and other employees were at risk when the roof of the shed they were working in was punctured. The exterior pane of glass in the double glazed skylight window of the manager's office was penetrated by fly ash.
Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard on 25 November that, on 15 January 2020, a blast at Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry in Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, North Wales, resulted in rocks flying up to some 270m, out of the danger exclusion zone.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) concluded it was reasonably practicable for the company to ensure that the blasting did not give rise to danger by increasing the danger zone, clearing the increased danger zone of people, increasing the quality and quantity of stemming for the explosives in the blastholes, and by ensuring an adequate blasting specification was produced and authorised.
HSE found that there were poor stemming practices, the written specification was prepared after the firing of the blast, and an inadequate danger zone was in place.
Breedon Trading Ltd of Pinnacle House, Breedon Quarry, Breedon on the Hill, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by virtue of the Quarries Regulations 1999, regulation 25.
As well as the £300,000 fine the company was ordered to pay £2,534.80 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Adrian Jurg, who is HM Specialist Inspector of Quarries, commented: “Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements.
“It is unacceptable that employees, and potentially members of the public, be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks that could easily lead to death or serious injury.”