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Jun 27, 2023

Quarries Sheet No 1

HSE information sheet

This information sheet has been drawn up by a working party from HSE's Quarries National Interest Group, the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors and British Coal Opencast.

The cleaning of coal by workers using hand shovels during coaling operations is recognised as a particularly dangerous activity when it takes place within the swing radius of the face excavator.

This guidance is intended to help you as a manager to assess the hazards/risks present in coal cleaning and to protect the health and safety of coal cleaners and other pedestrians involved in or affected by the operation.

The aim of an assessment is to help you identify all the reasonably practicable steps which need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of coal cleaners and other pedestrians, such as coal inspectors and vehicle drivers, who may be in the immediate area.

The responsibility for making an assessment of the risks during coal cleaning is that of the appointed quarry manager. It needs to cover everyone involved whether or not they are directly employed by the contractor (statutory owner).

Risk assessment involves you making an operational decision on whether the coal seam is contaminated enough for coal cleaners to be used. If you decide that you have to use cleaners, then a series of measures can be taken to remove or minimise the danger. For example, ask yourself:

Regular review of the decisions taken as a result of these questions will enable you to react as necessary to changing circumstances in terms of geological conditions and contamination levels.

When you have assessed how many coal cleaners you need and for how long they will be needed on the job, think about the following hazards:

Think about the people who may be working in positions where they are vulnerable to rock falls. Have the faces and the tops of the face been thoroughly inspected for loose or unstable rock? Do you need to post a look-out to give warning of developing instability?

Try to establish the location of old mine workings using the mine plans. If these are not available, try to obtain the information from local sources. If the position of old workings is uncertain, you can advise plant operators of the possibility of unstable floor conditions developing and the need to proceed with caution.

Coal cleaners and others involved in coaling are sometimes required to work or travel close to the edge of the excavation. You will need to consider what type of protection is necessary, such as a harness, physical barrier and/or edge identification.

It is extremely dangerous for anyone to work within the swing radius of the excavator bucket because of the risk of pedestrians being struck by:

The cleaning work on this area of the coal seam can generally be completed when the excavator is stationary with its bucket on the ground. The coal cleaner can then work within clear sight of the excavator driver. If it is not reasonably practicable to follow this course, your aim will be to minimise the risks as much as possible.

This would involve maintaining an adequate batter and checking for tension cracks on top.

Falls of coal may be inevitable in the digging process, so try to anticipate where they will occur.

These could include, for example, drag-line operations, overburden loading and hauling and road wetting.

Look at, for example, weather conditions, ground conditions and visibility.

Then decide upon the appropriate measures to take.

You will find it helpful to ask yourself whether you have done all the things which the law requires you to. For example, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires that a safe system of work is provided. Other legislation which you will find helpful is listed in the Further information section.

When you are satisfied with the regulatory position, ask yourself if there are any generally accepted industry standards which can help you plan the work. But do not stop there. Use your skill and experience to decide on extra precautions whenever the need arises.

There may be occasions when you get stuck with a problem. There is no need to suffer it or take a chance - your local inspectors will help you. Their phone numbers are in the phone book under Health and Safety Executive. There is also a wide selection of guidance books and leaflets produced by HSE, some of which are listed in the Further information section.

This publication may be freely reproduced, except for advertising, endorsement or commercial purposes. The information is current at 9/94. Please acknowledge the source as HSE.

Printed and published by HSE 9/94 NIS/01/01 C35

Further information is contained in the 3-Chloropropene Risk Assessment Document EH72/4, ISBN 0 7176 1353 4 and the next issue of EH64 (available from HSE Books)

Further help:

Further advice can be obtained from HSE offices (see under Health and Safety Executive in the telephone directory). For other enquiries write to HSE's Information Centre, Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ.

Falls of ground from high walls and end wallsCollapse of old mine workingsFalls from the top of excavationsWorking within the swing radius of the excavator bucketSlope failure of the low wallFalls of coal from thick seamsOther activities taking place in close proximityOther elementsFurther informationFurther help: