Mining and quarry jobs rest on new health and safety rules being met

Posted on 12 July 2016

Jobs in mining, quarrying and contracting are at risk if new health and safety rules are not renewed within six months, industry representatives say.

Delegates from the three sectors meet in Blenheim on Wednesday  for the Quarry New Zealand annual conference.

Among the topics to be discussed at the three day meeting will be industry certificates of competency for site managers.

The quarrying, mining and contracting sectors are warning site managers have less than six months to meet new health and safety competency requirements.

Industry groups are monitoring the issue and concerns about the certificates are expected to be raised at the conference.

Smaller operators may be more at risk than larger ones if certificates are not renewed by December 31.

The Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA), Institute of Quarrying NZ (IOQNZ), Mining/Extractive Health and Safety Council (MinEx) and Civil Contractors New Zealand warn that without a lift in renewals, the jobs of those who have not met the new requirements are at risk.

There will also be risk to the supply of aggregate material particularly from smaller producers.

There are few trained replacements for large numbers of site managers who would have to stand down on December 31 this year because they haven't renewed their A or B grade certificates of competence, an industry spokesman said.

There are challenges with gaining new competency certificates but all site managers must have achieved this by December 31, he said.

New regulations introduced in December 2014 required Certificate of Competence (CoC) holders to gain up to four new unit standards.

Recently quarry managers at a WorkSafe workshop shared their concern about the quality and availability of certificate training.

About 40 per cent of those sitting a B grade certificate required to manage a smaller quarry or open cast mine failed the final oral examination.

WorkSafe has 602 quarry and mine notified site managers but is aware of about 1600 sites, said WorkSafe's chief inspector Extractives Mark Pizey​ at the Nelson workshop.

MinEx chairman Chris Baker said there were some teething issues with renewing certificates.

"But people who manage quarries, mines and other such sites must have these before the year's end," he said.

"We had a one-year extension this year but WorkSafe has made clear there will be no further extension. Frankly we are not seeking one either. People have to get up to speed on the new health and safety competencies."

AQA chairman Brian Roche said about 85 per cent of New Zealand aggregate is produced by bigger suppliers who are generally having fewer issues with meeting the new competency requirements than smaller operators.

Those who still need to pass a new, or renewed certificate of competency have to make a choice, he said.

"Either you pass the new competencies or come Christmas you will no longer be a certificate holder and not able to manage a site."

Roche and Institute of Quarrying NZ board chairman Les Ward is concerned about the potential impact on the quarry sector, especially smaller producers.

"We don't have a surplus of trained A and B Grade CoC holders," Ward said.

"We could see some smaller quarries, in particular, closed as a result."

Civil Contractors NZ chief executive Peter Silcock said there were still some issues with renewals, especially with smaller members, and the risk of contractors losing access to some aggregate supplies was of real concern.

"Our members produce some of their own aggregate but also buy considerable quantities. Employers in the contracting and extractive sector around the country need to ensure site managers renew their certificate by Christmas. "


 - The Marlborough Express