The operation of a quarry begins with stripping the overburden (the soil and subsoil above the bedrock). The overburden is stripped with an excavator, dragline, ripper, bulldozer, grader or other earthmoving equipment, and placed in large dump trucks. This process is repeated as the faces advance.
This work is often carried out by specialist civil construction contractors. When overburden stripping is taking place there is a large increase in the volume of traffic movement so it is important that such activities are planned in advance and do not create additional risks to quarry operations.
Overburden stripping should take place a safe distance from quarry faces so that the risk of failure of the face is minimised and persons at the toe of the quarry face are not placed at risk with the risk of mobile plant running or falling over the quarry face minimised.
Though the stripping of overburden is often sub-contracted out it does not remove the responsibility of the Operator to ensure the activity is carried out safely. Mobile plant should have adequate visibility aids, reversing alarms, flashing beacons etc. Plant Operators should hold the requisite cards to operate that class of vehicle. It is the responsibility of the Operator to ensure the Contractor is operating in a safe manner with suitable plant and equipment.
Any stockpile of overburden must be managed in the same way as any other stockpile or tip; it should have adequate drainage, be on a firm and level foundation and at a safe angle of repose.