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Breedon fined £300k for flying blast debris

26 Nov 21 Breedon Trading Ltd has been fined £300,000 after a supposedly controlled explosion in a quarry sent rocks flying nearly 300 metres, hitting a site hut.

Llandudno Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 15th January 2020, a blast at Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry in Llan Ffestiniog, resulted in rocks being propelled beyond the danger zone.

One quarry operative had to run for cover and other employees were put at risk when the roof of the shed they were working in was punctured.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that flyrock from the blasting operation, had landed approximately 270 metres away.

The HSE said that it was reasonably practicable for Breedon to ensure that the blasting did not create danger by increasing the danger zone, clearing the area, increasing the quality and quantity of stemming for the explosives in the blastholes, and by ensuring an adequate blasting specification was produced and authorised in advance.

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But it found that the stemming was poor, the written specification was prepared after the firing of the blast, and the danger zone was too small. As a result there was a projection of flyrock outside of the danger zone that caused.

Breedon Trading Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by virtue of the Quarries Regulations 1999, regulation 25. It was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £2,534.80 in costs.

HM specialist inspector of quarries Adrian Jurg said after the hearing: “Blasting operations at quarries are inherently high risk, and these risks must be rigorously controlled by good explosives engineering practice and in accordance with legal requirements. It is unacceptable that employees, and potentially members of the public, be put at serious risk of being hit by rocks that could easily lead to death or serious injury.”

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