KANBrief 3/11

‘Safer by Design’: A global initiative to involve the whole supply chain in working towards Zero Harm

Originating in the United Kingdom (UK) and now a board-approved project of UEPG, the European Aggregates Association, ‘Safer by Design’ comprises voluntary guidance addressing the design vacuum that exists between the manufacturers and users of mobile plant used in quarry extraction and processing. Complementing national, European and international standards, the core safety requirements identify and demonstrate the real ‘state of the art’ that should be reflected by the CE mark.

Many countries are realising that the only sustainable goal, in terms of workforce health and safety, is to focus on Zero Harm. This requires not only a fully competency-assured workforce, but all elements of the supply chain working in concert to ensure that workers are provided with plant and equipment that is genuinely ‘Safer by Design’.

Extending Safequarry.com

In 2009 the international health and safety website for the mineral products industry, was subject to a major extension with the addition of the ‘Safer by Design’ web pages, based on separate German and UK surveys, highlighting the prevalence of poor and/ or inadequate design as principal root causes of injuries.

Hanson UK (a HeidelbergCement Group company) had ordered the survey of 550 items of mobile plant to identify root causes of accidents and to propose solutions. This awardwinning survey and report sparked a major review amongst UK quarry and mineral products companies who were asked to list all the ‘extras’ requested during purchases of new or re-engineered mobile plant, in order to bring their CEmarked offerings up to a safe standard for use by operators and maintenance personnel.

The many common elements of these lists of ‘extras’ comprise the web pages of ‘Safer by Design’, reflecting the mineral products industry’s fundamental concerns as to the serious inadequacies of the CE Mark, as well as European and international standards that are below par in terms of health and safety.

Rudiments of ‘Safer by Design’

Addressing voluntary guidance for off-road mobile plant, ‘Safer by Design’ focuses on:

  • Loading shovels
  • Excavators – tracked/wheeled
  • Bulldozers
  • Dumptrucks – rigid/articulated
  • Mobile crushers and screens

For each of these machine groups, the userfriendly guidance has five categories:

  • Access systems
  • Visibility
  • Safety & Security
  • Maintenance
  • Environment & Health

For each category, a range of criteria forms the body of the resulting document identifying, for each machine group and size, whether an individual criterion is ‘Best Practice’; ‘Optional’; ‘Aspirational’ or ‘Not applicable’.

 Relationship with Standards

‘Safer by Design’ does not, in any way, compete ith standards, nor is any aspect intended to be compulsory. Individual companies, however, are at liberty to take more robust positions.

As a part of the procurement process, purchasers of mobile plant may wish to consider requesting their manufacturer or supplier to submit risk assessments relating to each of the relevant categories, with specific reference to the criteria listed on the ‘Safer by Design’ pages.

Stakeholder Challenge

The ultimate target of Zero Harm cannot and will not be met unless all relevant contributory factors, including the supply chain procurement process, are addressed. Accordingly, the quarrying and mineral products industry calls upon stakeholders to:

  • Lobby for building best practices into standards
  • Take into account the ‘Safer by Design’ criteria when purchasing new or re-engineered plant
  • Retrofit, where practicable, using the ‘Safer by Design’ pages as checklists
  • Share expertise to help prevent harm to persons involved in or affected by the operation and/or maintenance of mobile plant

It behoves every health and safety regulator to support, actively and publicly, any legitimate initiative focused on Zero Harm by preventing death, injury and ill health in workplaces. ‘Safer by Design’ is one such initiative. To influence equipment design in this way is simply the ‘right thing to do’.

Martin Isles