Code of Practice for Geological Visits to Quarries, Mines and Caves
Preparing for the Visit
- Seek permission in writing at least 3 to 6 weeks prior to the proposed date from the quarry or mine Manager. The leader should inform the Manager of the proposed date, time of arrival, length of visit, number in party (including total staff numbers, and with age range if under 16), particular locations to be visited and purpose of visit. Permission should be obtained, preferably in writing, together with the terms (including the removal of specimens) under which the visit can be carried out. Prior inspection of the site by the leader, if he/she is not already familiar with the site, is strongly recommended.
- The leader must inform members of the party of the terms of access and of the necessary procedures prior to the visit. They should also be warned of possible hazards.
- If permission to visit is witheld, a party should in no circumstances trespass.
- The wearing of hard hats is a mandatory requirement in most operating quarries and mines. Boots or wellingtons with a protective toecap and high visibility clothing are strongly advised and may be mandatory at certain sites. Adequate or suitable eye protection must be worn when hammering rock. A first aid kit should be available.
- Only lighting equipment formally approved by a mine Manager can be taken underground. (In most mines items such as matches, lighters, torches and camera flash equipment are not permitted).
- No electrical equipment (e.g. geophysical equipment, C.B. radio) can be used on the premises without specific approval of the Manager. This is to avoid any possibility of interference with sensitive process control equipment or electrical detonation systems.
- The leader must contact the Manager or his/her authorised representative while the party remains together, preferably in the coach or other transport. The party must listed to and comply with all instructions given by the quarry or mine staff or party leader, as to precautions to be followed, including any warning procedures.
- The party must remain in a compact group or groups, and individuals should not separate from the party unless permission is given by the quarry Manager or his/her representative.
- The leader should check the numbers on entering and leaving the site; departure should be confirmed at the site office.
Sampling and Collection
- Normally there will be no objection to the collection of samples. Specific approval should, however, be obtained from the Manager for any substantial sampling or excavation. Geologists have beenknown to damage carefully landscaped areas.
- If moving plant or equipment is present the party must keep clear, ensuring that the person controlling the plant is aware of their prescence, and must not pass close behind or within the slewing radius of excavation plant.
- Stand well clear of conveyors, crushing and screening equipmewnt. Vehicles must be given priority of way. Cables, machinery and any other equipment must be avoided and not touched.
- Quarry and pit faces, and underground excavations, are designed to be stable but can, during development, become locally unstable. The leader should familiarise him/her self with obvious hazards before the party enters the working area and should consult the Manager or his/her authorised representative as to specific hazards.
- Rock faces in quarries should not be approached unless it is essential; where practicable only fallen material should be observed and sampled. The leader should be aware of the local causes of instability (e.g. geological structure, tension cracks, overhang, groundwater flow) and be able to recognise areas associated with potential slope failure or recent blasting.
- Sand and gravel pits may contain steep slopes in weakly cemented material; undercutting of such faces in abandoned pits by human activity can lead to sudden collapse. Slopes composed of fallen sand are likely to be loose and can be subject to softening if saturated.
- Slopes in clay pits can be very soft and associated with shallow instability, particularly following wet weather. Members of a party should be kept away from such slopes in view of the risks of partial or total entrapment.
- Parties should keep away from areas that are flooded and where there is uncertainty as to the depth of water. Depressions are likely to collect loose unconsolidated materials which, if hidden by water or if the water table is close to the surface, can be hazaradous as the result of quicksand or soft mud.
- If the flooded area is extensive, and rafts or dinghies are used to obtain access, bouyancy aids should be worn by all members of the party.
Waste Disposal Areas
- Parties should keep away from sludge lagoons which contain semi-liquid material disguised underneath a thin potentially unstable crust. Inadequately compacted landfill should be avoided.
- Parties should also avoid waste rock piles where end-tipping is in progress. Such piles can be over-steepened in their upper part and this can give rise to localised slope instability
- No field party must be present in a quarry or mine while charging or blasting is underway uinless the Manager or his/her authorised representative is in direct charge of the party. The leader must make him/her self aware of the normal blasting schedule, and the warning procedure adopted. A party must not enter or re-enter a quarry or mine after blasting unless authorised to do so.
- In no circumstances should any drillholes or faces prepared for blasting, or any wires, detonators or explosives be approached, touched or interfered with, either before or after blasting.
- All mines are subject to national statutory safety regulations under the Mines and Quarries Acts, and a party must be conducted by the Manager or his/her authorised representative on any visits to a working mine. Members of the party will be required to comply with local safety codes and requirements as explained by the Manager or his/her representative
Abandoned Mines and Caves
- Leaders are strongly advised not to take field parties into abandoned mines or caves. The exception can only be where the leader is fully familiar with the mine or cave, is appropriately experienced and can ensure that the party is properly equipped and prepared. The party should be as small as possible but there should not be less than four experienced persons in parties which include novices.
- The leader must leave a record of party membership, a map of the locations to be visited, anticipatedtime of return and details of the local rescue services on departure with a responsible person; safe return of the party should be positively confirmed.
- The leader must be familiar with the mine, should have obtained any necessary permissions and be aware of any records which may be available; local advice should be taken and permission to remove samples should have been obtained from the owner. The party should be properly equipped with ropes as required, hard hats, boots or wellingtons, warm and waterproof clothing and one lamp per person. Emergency lights, route markers, food and first aid equipment should be carried.
- Under no circumstances should an abandoned mine or cave be entered alone.
- Members of the party should not have consumed alcoholic drink or taken a sedative drug during the previous 8 hours, or the period of work.
- One of the greatest dangers in abandoned mines and caves results from rapidly rising water. The leader must obtain a weather forecast prior to going underground to ensure that there is no risk of flooding.
- Other specific hazards include the prescence of dangerous gases in unventilated areas, ladders, machinery, stacked waste rock, hidden shafts or slopes, and soft backfill to excavations below floor level.
- Care needs to be taken in hammering the walls or roofs of mines and adits as sparks can ignite certain gases.
- Special, additional procedures need to be taken if mine workings are to be used for mapping training purposes, or long periods of underground work are involved.
- A quarry which is not being worked remains a quarry under the Mines and Quarries Acts unless specifically abandoned. For this reason a leader needs to seek permission for entry from the quarry operator or owner even though the quarry may appear to be abandoned.
After Departure from Site
- Most quarries remain subject to localised instabilty after working. On visiting an abandoned quarry it is necessary for the leader to check for evidence of recent or latent instability, or other hazards, before the party enters the quarry.
- A letter of appreciation should be sent to the appropriate person after the visit to the quarry, pit or mine with comment on any geological results of particular interest.