Here’s a copy of the first page from this years report which gives an overview of the schemes history :
A) Background And Code Of Practice
In 1993 a Mine Leader Assessment Scheme was drawn up by Adrian Pearce and others to ensure that only properly qualified persons would, in future, lead groups into mines in the UK. North Wales was, I believe, the first area to introduce this scheme on a rigorous basis. At the time, it was realised that the venues must be suitable for use by Outdoor Centres, so meetings were held with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Bootle, culminating on 15th March 1995, when John Cliffe and I met Mr G E Green, Principal Inspector.
Mr Green stressed that he would prefer that Centres did not use mines at all but he acknowledged the fact that few alternatives exist in some areas. The principle of using mines without the specific permission of the owner (i.e. Mineral Owner or person entitled to work the mine) remained unresolved (and still does) but he recommended that the NCA (now BCA) inform centre management that such permission should be obtained prior to use. Unless a centre has a specific Tenancy Agreement on a mine, the venue in not notifiable. This means that the user is not required to notify the HSE, but because centre staff are “at work” during their underground trips with groups parts of the Health and Safety at Work Act will apply. A summary of the relevant legislation appears in page 15 of Leisure use of Mines, published by NAMHO in 2000. The matter was also dealt with briefly in “An Interim Report into Safety at Outdoor Centres” published by HSE in 1995.
In August 2008, I met Ian Waugh, Chief Inspector of Mines (H.S.E.), as I was concerned at the lack of communication since 1995, in particular regarding my position. Whilst assuring him that the scheme had operated well in the interim, I explained that the original intent, of providing simple routes for licensed centres in mines where caves were few, was being expanded to include different qualifications which required the use of more complex
routes, Mr Waugh put me in contact with Graham Gilmour, liaison inspector with (then) AALA. He was aware of my role and the scheme in general but was adamant that the inspection regime should operate strictly within its original parameters in conjunction with the BCA, LCML award scheme only. Providers who insist on parents accompanying children, or who use more complex routes with adults are, therefore, outside this inspection scheme completely, as are venues used for staff training exercises unless blue routes are followed. This, of course, reinforces the original intention of allowing trainers and assessors to use more challenging venues outside the scheme at their own discretion for which they will no doubt carry the appropriate insurance.
In 1995, and following the meetings at Bootle a code of practice was prepared categorising prospective mine venues to be used by Outdoor Centres as follows:-
One-off inspection by a qualified person – future monitoring by Centre Staff
A simple adit (or similar excavation) through solid ground which is no more dangerous than a Grade 1 cave.
Periodic inspection by a qualified mining engineer and monitoring by Centre staff who report suspected deterioration within the local scheme. The mining engineer should not need to specify the frequency of inspections.
A more complex Level 1 mine or simple Level 2 working possibly involving stopes, raises, winzes, manmade supports, and similar hazards and/or minor conservation issues.
Inspection period imposed by a mining engineer (i.e. yearly, 2 yearly etc.) with constant monitoring by Centre staff, reporting deterioration within the scheme.___
A more complex level 2 mine, or a Level 1 mine with specific hazards giving rise to possible deterioration following group use. Mines with a substantial presence of manmade supports, ladderways etc., (especially timber) will fall into this category; so will ones with significant conservation issues.
A mine or part of a mine which has been inspected by a qualified mining engineer and found to be unsuitable for use by Outdoor Centres
This categorisation refers only to mines used by Outdoor Centres or suitably qualified individuals within the BCA scheme. The next section of this report deals with this and other issues more fully.
Following the meetings with HSE referred to above and subsequent correspondence and discussions with several interested parties (including BCA officials), all participating Centre Staff and individual Mine Leader Award holders must be aware of the following:-
a) In my reports, correspondence and verbal exchanges I can only refer to the condition of a venue as seen at the time of my visit. Several places are visited by caving clubs, mining history organisations and assorted members of the public over whom neither the BCA nor I have any direct control. The condition of a venue may change because of their activities in addition to natural decay or damage by led groups.
b) It follows; therefore, that qualified Centre Staff (who are the responsible parties when groups are underground) must carefully monitor conditions during their visits and report deterioration. This is not only part of the BCA Mines Leader Training Scheme, it is pure common sense. My position is that of an advisor.
c) It has never been envisaged that the use of approved venues will involve more than a limited amount of maintenance work, such as moving the odd boulder on a potentially loose slope or any activity which can safely be carried out by mine leaders or assessors within their range of experience. More complex work such as the erection of supports, installation of fixed ladders or stagings may be construed by the HSE as mining operations which, as such, are notifiable.
d) These reports must be read carefully by everyone involved in the mine leadership scheme in the region. There is no point in writing them otherwise.
e) I only comment on the condition of bolts, hangers or traverse lines as I see them. I am not qualified to advise on bolting practice.
I have listed these conditions in an attempt to cover various points which have been raised since 1995, but should queries arise please get in touch.
C) About This Report
I have been asked to change my usual format to allow easy annual updating of information on all approved sites. Each venue now has a separate “folder” which can be altered or replaced electronically after each inspection, if appropriate.
For the sake of clarity, I have excluded those mines appearing in the summary which can never be used for groups whilst retaining those which may come into use again or for the first time if minor works are carried out. Obviously, the regularly used (and inspected) venues are all included.
IF ANY CENTRE IS USING A VENUE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS REPORT WOULD THEY PLEASE INFORM GETHIN THOMAS IMMEDIATELY SO THAT IT CAN BECOME PART OF THE SCHEME IF APPROPRIATE.
USE OF VENUES WHICH DO NOT APPEAR IN THIS REPORT FOR LICENSED ACTIVITIES MAY INVALIDATE A CENTRE’S INSURANCE.
THIS WHOLE SCHEME RELATES TO LEADERS WHO HAVE THE APPROPRIATE BRITISH CAVING ASSOCIATION QUALIFICATION. THERE IS NO EQUIVALENT QUALIFICATION AT PRESENT.
D) Previous Reports And Monitoring
This report is a summary of conditions applying at the present time (i.e. May 2012) and in no way supersedes or invalidates any previous reports issued in conjunction with the LCML scheme. I must reiterate the need for participants to monitor conditions underground on every visit and report any changes to myself or Dena Proctor.