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Company Fined after Dangerous Quarry Blast

A company has been fined for serious safety failings after a quarry blast sent huge rocks flying outside a designated safety zone.

The rocks, which weighed up to 15 kilos, were blasted well outside the zone and across a public road, narrowly missing employees as they landed and exposing motorists and pedestrians to danger.

The Somerset-based firm was prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work accident investigation identified serious control failings.

Bristol Crown Court heard that staff - who were posted as sentries outside the blast area - noticed rocks flying over their heads and landing all around them and on the other side of a public road.

The HSE investigation discovered that WCD Sleeman and Sons Ltd – who organised the blast at Moons Hill Quarry near Shepton Mallet – had used too much explosive and failed to implement adequate safety measures.

After pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the firm was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

The investigation also revealed the company had been fined previously for a similar incident in Devon when they were fined £20,000 with £17,000 costs.

This very serious work accident could so easily have resulted in the deaths of employees and or a member of the public.

It is incredibly alarming that the firm in question failed to properly plan this operation after having already been prosecuted for a similar previous offence.

It goes without saying that quarry blasting operations can be extremely dangerous as falling rocks are obviously more than capable of killing people.

The quarrying industry has accounted for over 30 fatal work accidents and more than 3,500 work injuries since 2000.

These figures speak for themselves and emphasise just how critical it is that companies adhere to the strictest planning and control procedures at all times. 

We strongly welcome “Target Zero” - a Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee (QNJAC) initiative that aims to ultimately make quarrying a “zero harm” industry.

Since 2000, Target Zero has helped reduce quarry work accidents by more than 80%.

Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in work accident compensation claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm with more than 1,450 staff and 18 offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Derby, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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