Quarrying & Mining Magazine
Q&M Q&M Comment

Another telling year

There’s a tangible unease among industry observers over the new health and safety regime, which some say could end up onerous, if not unworkable.

Alan Titchall
Alan Titchall

Following the Pike River debacle we have gone from a laissez faire government approach that was nurtured during the 1990s to a tight regime of workplace regulation, and you can be forgiven for thinking looming new ‘requirements’ for operating a quarry could become too onerous for anyone but the big boys. This industry is made up of lots of small, part time quarry operations and contractors with mobile plant.

Older readers might have observed a general culture change over the past two decades that has taken the focus from individual responsibility to putting the wider community in charge. If we take alcohol, for instance, there was a time when you could be arrested and charged for under-aged drinking and that prosecution went on your record. After all – you made the decision to go outside the law. Now the ‘supplier’ and venue owner is charged. In other words – the community is held responsible for individual actions with the focus on liability and punitive fines.

I have pointed this out before, that while we have a growing obsession with workplace H&S (with punitive fines and exemplary damages in the face of our ‘no blame’ compulsory ACC accident insurance), we also have a comparatively fatalistic approach to H&S outside of the workplace. How often do you hear the expression in this country to describe some hapless victim being, ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’? Try putting that on your workplace accident report.

While I am having a good whinge I may as well throw the country’s ‘avatar-esque’ fixation with the ‘environment’ as if the word was invented yesterday. This country probably has the most ‘affected’ biodiversity of any environment on the planet. Even the grass and worms that are the foundation of our agricultural economy (and which makes us look so ‘green’ for tourists) were imported. It must have been quite a place when giant moa roamed the plains and the bird life sang in deafening chorus from the dense forest. It has gone – get over it. We only need common sense when it comes to sustaining a clean, unpolluted environment, not an embracement of animism.

Finally, on a brighter note, I will leave you with this message that I found on the Stevenson Resources’ website: “Did you know – aggregates are the resource most widely consumed by mankind, second only to water?” I didn’t actually, but it doesn’t surprise me.

Season wishes to you all, and keep digging for a better future.

Alan Titchall, Editor

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