Inspection/Appraisal and Geotechnical assessment

The Operator must ensure that suitable operating procedures are in place for the safe operation of tips and stockpiles. The operating procedures should address the frequency of inspection, appraisal and assessment.

Regulation 54 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) Regulations, 2008 requires the Operator, before quarrying operations commence or re-commence in a particular area in the quarry, to have a suitable appraisal of all proposed and existing excavations, tips, and Lagoons undertaken by a competent person in order to determine whether any such excavation, tip or lagoon represents a significant hazard, or a potential significant hazard.

The relationship between the appraisal and assessment

The relationship between the appraisal and assessment is illustrated in the flowchart of the appraisal & assessments of tips/stockpiles. Some appraisals will only identify those hazards from isolated minor failures, such as falls of a single rock or a small amount of sand. A geotechnical assessment does not focus on such hazards. While isolated falls of ground can be serious, they can generally be rectified immediately and be adequately controlled by routine daily inspection, use of appropriate equipment and working methods.                       

The competent person carrying out the appraisal does not have to be a Geotechnical specialist but they do need to know when a Geotechnical specialist is required to carry out a Geotechnical assessment and need to be able to identify the factors that make a Geotechnical assessment necessary.

When carrying out an appraisal there is no need to duplicate work already done, as long as all the matters detailed in this section are adequately addressed. In some cases it is obvious that any failure of a stockpile/tip could prove fatal, for example located near a public roadway, house or above quarry offices. In these cases the initial appraisal can be very brief as a geotechnical assessment by a geotechnical specialist will be needed. Areas where no one is at risk from a collapse or failure of part of a tip or  lagoon must also be included in the appraisal because failure in such areas could affect the stability of the remainder of the excavations. Appraisal of such areas may also provide information relevant to the safety of other parts of the excavation. Among other things, the appraisal should take account of the material to be excavated or tipped, its structure, water content/drainage, the proximity of watercourses, roadways, workplaces, residential accommodation or abandoned workings, and any evidence or history failures. The matters covered in inspections are also relevant.

A geotechnical assessment may be preceded by a site survey and site investigation to establish critical information to assist in any full geotechnical assessment which may include:

  • Site survey
  • Site investigation
  • Cross-sections based on site investigation
  • Plans based on site investigation
  • Assumptions made before analysis
  • Findings of the analysis
  • Design coming out of the analysis
  • Requirements during and after construction

Copies of all geotechnical assessments must be kept for inspection and retained for 10 years.

This guidance recognizes that conditions and circumstances which determine operating procedures may vary considerably at different operations. For the implementation of this guidance, it is a requirement that written operating instructions be prepared for each operation.

Further detailed information on the management of tips, lagoons and stockpiles can be found in Part 6 of the SAFE QUARRY GUIDELINES TO THE SAFETY, HEALTH AND WELFARE AT WORK (QUARRIES) REGULATIONS 2008.