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Plant Operators and Drivers

Every operator and driver employed directly or indirectly to operate mobile plant or an ancillary vehicle on a quarry shall only do so if:-

  1. They are capable of doing their work in a way that is safe for them and other people.
  2. They are competent by way of sufficient training, experience, knowledge and other qualities to undertake the duties assigned to them.
  3. They are sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves or others at risk.
  4. They are authorised by the Site Manager.
  5. They have undergone a site induction and are given relevant information and instruction on the hazards and control measures associated with site traffic management.
  6. They have received and confirmed they understand any specific rules issued to them.
  7. Any non-English speaking operators / drivers employed have the rules communicated to them and checked that they understand

There is no legal requirement for plant operators to hold a road driving license unless they wish to drive their vehicles on the public highway. All plant driven on the public highway must comply with the appropriate road traffic legislation.

Persons who drive on the public highway must hold a valid driving license and shall provide the license details to the site. It shall be the duty of the employee / contractor to inform the site of any driving ban or revocation of their license.

Competence and Capability

All employees who are to operate mobile plant should have a valid site authorisation/ license for the type of plant to be operated.

Trainee operators should remain under the supervision of an authorised competent person until they are deemed to be competent.

The mobile plant operator should be assessed by a Mobile Plant Assessor before the authorisation can be added to the employee’s authorisation/licence. The appropriate assessment form should be completed and retained in the employee’s records.

Preferably Mobile Plant Assessors should be accredited to an industry recognised scheme.

When involved in operations, all Contractors should be expected to hold a Contractor Safety Passport or be able to demonstrate a similar level of competence.

All contractors’ employees should be able to demonstrate their individual level of competence. This may be a letter of competence from their employer advising how this competence was achieved.

Training and Authorisation

Health and Safety law requires that each operator is given adequate training by their employer so that they are competent to operate the machinery which they use. (Quarries Regulations Regulation 9 & PUWER 98 - Regulation 9)

(1) Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken.

(2) Every employer shall ensure that any of his employees who supervises or manages the use of work equipment has received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken.

The Quarry Operator should follow a training scheme as follows:-

  1. Basic and specific training should be carried out by a competent instructor.
  2. Familiarisation training should then be given which needs to take place on the job.
  3. The trainee should be appointed and assigned a supervisor to exercise personal supervision over the trainee during familiarisation training.
  4. The trainee, after familiarisation training, should be given an assessment by a Mobile Plant Assessor.
  5. An assessment record should be completed after an assessment of the trainee. The assessment sheet should recommend the appropriate action i.e. competent or requires further training. The assessment sheet should provide sufficient information to allow the training to be traced back to course content.
  6. Following satisfactory completion of training, the employee should be authorised in writing to operate the mobile plant by the Quarry Manager.
  7. Training records and authorisations / licences should then be updated.
  8. Such a training framework should be set out in the vehicle rules.

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Control and Supervision

Supervisors should ensure that: -

1. Site traffic movements are organised and controlled so that vehicles can be driven safely and the risk of collisions is minimised.

2. Entry, parking and exit to active heavy plant areas such as haul routes, tips, excavations and workshops by vehicles especially light vehicles and pedestrians is authorised and controlled so as to limit the risk of collision with heavy plant to as low as is reasonably practicable. This may require stopping, clearing or restricting vehicle movement but should be based on the flowchart below

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3. They monitor through regular visual inspections from a safe vantage point that site vehicle operations are being carried out in compliance with these rules.

4. That one way systems and segregated routes are used and reversing movements are minimised.

5. Access to any haul roads or ramps not suitable for use is restricted by placing a physical barrier at the entrance to the restricted area.

6. Haul roads and ramps are suitably constructed avoiding steep gradients, sharp bends or blind dips wherever possible.

7. Adequate edge protection is provided on haul roads, tip edges, water bodies and other locations where there is a drop edge or other hazard.

8. Roads are adequately maintained with re-grading, slurry and debris removal and dust suppression etc. as necessary.

9. Unforeseen incidents such vehicle breakdowns, bogged vehicles, rock falls, subsidence etc. are promptly dealt with, with a suitable risk assessment and remedial action.

10. All site visitors or sub contractors with vehicles will be assigned to the control of a Supervisor or authorised person and be escorted to and from their place of work. A hand held radio must be provided and appropriate instructions issued.

11. Appropriate corrective action is taken to address any breaches of these rules, reporting non-compliances to the Site Manager as appropriate.

12. During periods of dry, windy weather, water shall be evenly applied at regular intervals to the surface of the haul roads and benches so as to suppress dust and prevent it from becoming airborne and causing a visibility nuisance. The quantity and frequency of water application must not create a soft slippery surface, particularly on slopes and bends.

13. In adverse weather conditions supervisors must ensure that plant operators drive to the prevailing conditions. An assessment must be made of deteriorating conditions to establish if operations can continue safely or if vehicle movements must be suspended. Examples of deteriorating conditions could be rain, ice, snow, fog etc

14. They monitor through regular visual inspections from a safe vantage point that site vehicle operations are being carried out in compliance with these rules.

15. Wherever possible one way systems are used and reversing movements are minimised.

16. Access to any haul roads or ramps not suitable for use is restricted by placing a physical barrier at the entrance to the restricted area.

17. Haul roads and ramps are suitably constructed avoiding steep gradients, sharp bends or blind dips wherever possible.

18. Adequate edge protection is provided on haul roads, tip edge, water bodies and other locations where there is a drop edge or other hazard.

19. All site visitors or sub-contractors with vehicles should be assigned to the control of a Supervisor or authorised person and be escorted to and from their place of work. A hand held radio should be provided and appropriate instructions issued.

20. Any safety concerns are reported immediately to the Site Manager as appropriate and the necessary remedial action taken.

Traffic Signalers

Should signalers be employed to direct plant/vehicle movements they need to be competent in methods used to ensure their own and other peoples safety. Signalers should be suitably trained (accredited course) and authorised and familiar with the signals to be given to drivers.

Radio Control

Radios should be used as a communication aid where appropriate but should not be regarded as the primary means of communication. Eye to eye contact between drivers and/or pedestrians and effective hand signals remain the primary means of communication and should be used wherever possible. You should not rely solely on a radio to keep you safe.

All radio communication should be acknowledged before carrying out the instruction, requirement or request.

When on site you should have a radio in your possession or be accompanied at all times by a person carrying a radio, except in areas exempt from the use of radios, if identified as such by the Site Manager.

If you have been issued with a site radio you should use it in accordance with the Site Manager’s instructions. Formal protocols should be drawn up and operators trained in their use.

Site Supervisors should monitor radio communication at all times and take appropriate action to ensure that instructions are properly communicated and understood.

Radios should be used to communicate for operational purposes only.

Communication by radio should be carried out from a place of safety at all times.

Where more than one vehicle is involved, radio instructions should be given in an order that will ensure safe vehicle movements. Site radios may be either a fixed vehicle unit or a portable handset. Sufficient numbers of portable handsets and charged spare batteries for handsets should be maintained at all times. These should be returned to the charging unit after use to ensure that a sufficient number of working radios are available for operational purposes.

Users should ensure that radios are treated with care and kept in good order.

Radio faults should be reported to a Supervisor and a replacement requested. Local rules should be in place to cover radio faults.

Site radios should be switched on at all times and tuned to the channel for site communications. Other channels should be used for specific works or emergencies as appropriate.

Abuse or frivolous use of the site radio system should not be tolerated and anyone guilty of this should be subject to disciplinary action. The provision of ‘Caller ID’ would alleviate most mis-use.

Radios should only be used when it is safe to do so and not when carrying out a complex vehicle movement or other task where the use of a radio might present a risk to health and safety e.g. a reversing manoeuvre.

It is essential that radio users identify themselves and name the driver of the vehicle or personnel they wish to communicate with.

Vehicle operators should not interrupt another person’s communication except in an emergency.

Emergency procedures should include the use of radios and emergency call signs.

Mobile Phones and other Media

Mobile phones can be beneficial to operations on site and can provide security and assistance in an emergency. There has been much attention about driver distraction due to the use of mobile phones in vehicle’s, however other personnel, such as maintenance staff using tools and equipment or pedestrians, can also be distracted from the dangers of vehicles, mobile plant or other machinery around them when using a mobile phone or other hand held device.

A mobile phone ring tone, text message alert or the ‘ping’ of an e-mail is a sound few of us can ignore, but they can allow us to become distracted from the task at hand.

A distraction is when someone pays attention to a second activity while carrying out a task. Using a mobile phone distracts you in many ways:

  • Physical distraction - for example handling the phone while driving or taking your hand off the steering wheel to dial a phone number or to answer/end a call.
  • Visual distraction - for example taking your eyes off the road.
  • Cognitive (mental) distraction - for example doing two mental tasks at the same time, like having a conversation and driving.

Using a mobile phone while driving can significantly impair a driver’s reaction time, visual search patterns, ability to maintain speed and position on the road and general awareness of other road users.

Using a hands free phone when driving does not significantly reduce the risk. The problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a conversation at the same time as driving.

Mobile phones are not the only distraction. Others include:

  • Other electronic devices such as IPOD’s, PDA’s or gaming devices
  • The reading of newspapers, books, magazines or other reading material
  • The playing of loud music that makes you unable to hear other sounds

While personnel are in the operational areas of surface mines in the vicinity of large earthmoving machinery and other ancillary vehicles any distraction could result in a dangerous situation arising.

The playing of loud music or the use of headsets to listen to music played on electronic devices could result in personnel not hearing other sounds around them and also vital communication messages not being heard.

There have been occasions when following an incident at a site, photographs have appeared on social media internet sites. These photographs could prejudice the result of any investigation following the incident and damage the company reputation.

The use of personal mobile phones and other electronic devices, while driving or operating plant or equipment, should be prohibited.

The site should have a policy / rules which specify, where and when any mobile phone or device can be used. Other points that should be considered could include;

  • The use of personal mobile phones and other electronic
  • Company issued mobile phones
  • Newspapers and other reading material
  • Photographic equipment