Quarry industry worker competence

Formerly SIM 03/2005/15 and SIM 03/2007/10


This replaces SIM 03/2005/15 version 2 and SIM 03/2007/10. It outlines what quarry inspectors should cover when checking compliance with the competence requirements in the Quarries Regulations 1999 (QR1999) and enforcement expectations if shortcomings are found. It includes guidance on recognised qualifications, how they relate to necessary competences and arrangements for maintaining and improving the levels of competence through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


The quarrying industry remains one of the most dangerous in which to work. Investigations into incidents have often identified a lack of competence as an underlying cause.  Checking the competence of all those involved is, therefore, an important element of quarry inspection.     

The competence of those involved in blasting operations (eg shotfirers and explosives supervisors) is crucial.  Blasting is potentially one of the most dangerous operations in quarrying.  As well as the risks associated with the storage, transport and handling of explosives, there are risks associated with firing the shot itself both on and off-site (eg should flyrock go beyond the danger zone).    

The Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC) and other relevant industry Sector Skills Councils / standards setting organisations have prepared national occupational standards (NOS) for quarry working.

The NOS specify the underpinning knowledge and understanding needed and set out the standards of performance individuals must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace. These NOS have been used to develop relevant national qualifications (QCF/NVQ SQCF/SVQ) which, provided the correct modules have been achieved, can be taken to demonstrate compliance with the NOS.



For quarry inspections inspectors should always

for general competence, check:

for blasting and related operations competence (shotfirers, explosives supervisors and others with a role), in addition to the above, check:

In incident investigations, inspectors should always pursue the competence of those involved.  

See Appendix 3 for enforcement guidance.


QR1999 regulation 9 requires a quarry operator to ensure that no-one undertakes any work at the quarry unless they are:

Regulation 2(1) defines a competent person as "a person with sufficient training, experience, knowledge and other qualities to enable him to properly undertake the duties assigned to him". 

Regulation 7 also requires the operator to demonstrate that there are adequate measures in place to safeguard the health and safety of:

This includes setting out the authority and duties of all those in the management structure. This information can then be used to define the necessary competences. However:

NOS form the basis for nationally recognised competency qualifications such as those obtained through the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).  Operators can use competency qualifications capable of meeting the relevant NOS to demonstrate that those working at their quarry are competent.  See Appendix 1 and Appendix 2.       


No special visits or other organisational requirements are involved.

Further References


FOD Construction Division, Operations 5 – National Quarries Inspection Team


Updated 2020-12-15