Warning to young people of quarry dangers

With the start of the warmer weather and the school holidays, Scottish quarry operators are joining forces to help deter young people from trespassing in quarries and avoid deaths or serious injuries. Their campaign will raise awareness of the potential hazards they expose both themselves and their friends to when they enter a quarry uninvited.

The importance of this safety campaign has been reinforced by the deaths of three teenagers drowned in separate accidents in disused quarries in the UK over the last two months. This includes the tragic death of a 16 year old boy in a quarry in Airdrie; the two friends he was with were unable to rescue him.

Quarry managers are also particularly keen that irresponsible adult trespassers who are putting themselves and others at risk in a quest to steal metal and chase cheap thrills are fully aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

A new survey of managers who run quarries, concrete plants and other related industry sites reveals a sharp escalation in adults who endanger themselves by breaking into sites and cutting through live cables to steal them. Sites also report adults engaged in leisure activities such as trial biking, dog walking and climbing.

Behind them, the trespassers often leave broken fences – and an open invitation for children in search of adventure.

“It is worrying enough that this new breed of trespassers put their own lives on the line,” says Alan Mackenzie, Chairman of MPA Scotland (Mineral Products Association) “But their recklessness reaches new levels when they expose children to the dangers of industrial sites they then treat as playgrounds.”

An MPA survey in Scotland shows that more than a third of site managers who responded experienced trespass over the past year. 30% of those able to determine a motivation said it was to break in and steal, this figure was higher in quarrying areas located nearer urban centres.

Other motivations for trespass include: “out walking” – 37 per cent; “trial and quad biking or other forms of motor based activities” – 26 per cent; and “going for a swim” – 21 per cent. Children at play accounted for 21 per cent.

Fatalities in recent years show that it is younger people and teenagers in particular, who are most at risk of drowning in deep and cold water, falling down sheer faces and being buried in sand stockpiles or quicksands. There were three trespass related injuries involving teenagers in Scottish quarries during a one month period in the summer of 2010.

The Scottish quarry operators want to raise awareness of these hazards and reinforce the message that “quarries are not for play – either for adults or young people”. The MPA has also created a Facebook page Stay Safe Stay Out of Quarries to support the campaign and help spread the key safety messages to teenagers, parents and teachers.

The Facebook page is also a route through which to access a new video which includes moving statements from parents who have lost children in quarry accidents over recent years. The video can also be viewed on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkRzpvPVdds