Monday, 13 October 2014

Health & Safety

Steeply sloping ground, precipices and rock fall hazards

Geologists often work in very isolated and hazardous places, where there are precipices and dangers of falling rocks, steep and often unstable or slippery slopes, boggy ground and water hazards – amongst others.

Water Hazards, Bogs and Quicksand
As an undergraduate, whilst mapping the Borrowdale Volcanics near Keswick, I became very aware of this when, walking on the moors, I stepped into a deep boggy hole that came up to my thigh. Having spent a few weeks safely traversing the rugged terrain, it took me completely by surprise and I could easily have broken my leg. 

By myself, and in the days before mobile phones, only the sheep and their Welsh Border Collies could have possibly been within hearing range.

No doubt, the codes of practice for undertaking fieldwork have changed considerably since this time; however, other minor accidents - experienced or witnessed whilst working on scaffolds in the construction industry and cutting stone in a quarry - have reinforced my own common sense attitude towards Health & Safety.

Both Martin Said and Marc Voltaire had undertaken preliminary visits and produced risk assessments of potential sites for the XP School “Rock On!” project and I thought that the places that we had visited on Day 1 were low risk, as far as safe access to these was concerned.

Knowing potential field trip hazards well, the students were being thrown in at the deep end to a certain extent but, when everyone decided to go to North Cliff Quarry on Day 2, we agreed that it is very important to be aware of personal and collective Health and Safety issues at an early age.

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