What does a Quarry Worker do?
Quarry workers, sometimes known as quarry operatives, work in quarries throughout the country. Quarrying is a form of opencast mining in which the top layer of soil is removed to give access to rock underneath. This rock is used in large quantities by the construction industry and in a variety of manufacturing operations.
As stated, the building industry relies on quarries to supply crushed stone and sand. This is used to make cement and concrete for all types of building work. Stone chippings and aggregates are also used in road repair and construction. Other quarries supply clay for bricks and, in some areas, slates for roofing.
Modern quarrying is a mechanical process involving large, powerful excavating, transporting and crushing equipment. Deep drilling machines and explosives are also used where necessary to break the rock.
The nature of the work varies enormously and quarry workers may be involved in any of the following roles:
- machine operators - working with heavy plant machinery such as excavators, draglines and cranes
- plant and process operators - employed on crushers, screening plant and graders
- drilling - setting up and operating drilling equipment
- maintenance workers - fitters, mechanics and electricians working on plant and vehicle maintenance
- shotfirers - working with explosives
- drivers - driving tipper and dumper trucks and other vehicles
- technicians - working in laboratories on quality control or recording site samples.
What's the working environment like working as a Quarry Worker?Quarry workers normally work a 37.5-hour week, with overtime and shift work very common. Larger companies will employ many workers in office accommodation at or near the quarry.
Sites are usually situated in rural areas so travel will be necessary. The work is physically demanding, dirty, noisy and dusty, and takes place in all weathers; it can also be hazardous and protective clothing and equipment, overalls, boots, goggles, ear protectors and safety helmets must be worn.
What does it take to become a Quarry Worker?As a quarry worker, you should:
- be physically fit
- be aware of health and safety issues
- have an aptitude for mechanical work
- have the ability to work as part of a team
- be able to follow instructions
- have numeracy skills to work out material quantities.
Quarry Worker Career OpportunitiesThere are well over 2,000 quarries spread throughout the United Kingdom. Companies vary dramatically in size.
Opportunities exist to progress from quarry worker to operative, driver, mechanic or fitter. Alternatively, it is possible to train as a driller or a shotfirer by undergoing specialist training in the use of drilling equipment and explosives.Suitable experience will lead to supervisory and health and safety positions in the quarry, while further educational qualifications can lead to jobs such as laboratory and quality control technicians and quarry engineer. There are also opportunities to work abroad, especially in developing countries.
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