Unit Manager

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Richard H

00:00:04 My name’s Richard H, I work at Stancombe Quarry just outside Bristol. I’m the unit manager in a million tonne a year quarry. We quarry limestone here and the limestone is used in various roles. It’s used in road building, block making, making of concrete, it’s used in the pharmaceutical industry for the making of aspirin, disprin, it’s used as a filler in bulk per capita head of, in the country every person in this country uses four tonnes of limestone a year.

00:00:38 My path into the industry started in 1987, I was working as a shoe repairer straight from school. My father actually works here, he’s been here since 1972. He said there was a job going in the quarry, I ought to come up and apply for it. Came in, applied, managed to get the job. I remember my first day in the quarry, I was taken up there by an old boy called Jim Purnell, he was the quarry foreman at the time back in 1987 and the first thing he did was take me up and saw a blast.

00:01:06 I was lucky enough to start on the day they blasted in the quarry. And that, for me, was quite exciting. I’ve now got the pleasure of running my own blasts so we blast typically once a week we try and put about 30,000 tonnes down a week.

00:01:25 To do what I do there’s a couple of paths. You could become part of the graduate trainee programme where you’ll be fast tracked into the industry or you can come via the practical route. You can come from the shop floor up learning your trade as you come up through the ranks which is the way I did it. I started as an operative in 1987, in 1982 I became an asphalt plant supervisor, in 1999 I went self employed for three years but still working within the quarrying industry.

00:01:58 Spent another three years as the manager of the national plant, went to a competitor for two and a half years running their national plant and then came back into the quarrying industry, or the quarries, to become a quarry manager.

00:02:16 Next stage for me I’d probably be looking for extra quarry, concrete plants. There’s a new role called a zone manager’s role and that encompasses asphalt plants, quarries and concrete plants almost like a mini cluster manager. I’ve got a secret ambition to tour the world in a mobile home, I just like the idea of being out there away from everything and experiencing something new every day.

00:02:52 Real turning point for me came in 1999. I’d been in the industry since ’87, I’d wanted to progress my career, hadn’t been able to for a number of reasons and decided to go self employed. Funnily enough outside of the industry I actually bought myself a burger van, thought I’d set myself up on a pitch but I had a two week window where my pitch wasn’t ready. The quarry didn’t have a crusher operator so I told the then manager if he wanted I’d run it for two weeks and I’d bill them. So, at the end of the two weeks I went into the tax office, registered self employed and still didn’t come out of the industry.

00:03:32 Just couldn’t leave the industry that I’d left. I just had to be around the quarries. If the quarries phoned me up and said, “Rich, we need a litter pick done,” I came in and did a litter pick for them. If they needed to do weeding, I did weeding for them. I did fencing, I ran machinery, crushers, asphalt plants, shovels, dumpers. I did absolutely everything I could to be in that industry. ENDS

Richard H is the Manager of Stancombe Quarry near Bristol. He started at the quarry in 1987 as a manual worker and has worked his way up through the ranks to be in charge of a million ton a year quarry. “I was lucky enough to start on the day they blasted in the quarry. And that, for me, was quite exciting. I’ve now got the pleasure of running my own blasts.”

More information about Quarry workers and related operatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

100%  male 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Quarry workers erect supports in underground workings, set and detonate explosives to loosen rocks and set up and operate drilling equipment to extract minerals (other than coal) from the ground, and operate machinery to wash, crush or separate stone and ores.
There are no formal academic entry requirements. Training is typically provided on-the-job. NVQs/ SVQs in Drilling Operations and Process Operations (Extractive Industries) are available at Level 2. There is a minimum age limit of 18 for underground work.
  • Inspects blasting area, drills shot holes, inserts explosives and detonates charges to loosen large pieces of rock/ore;
  • Assembles drilling and cutting tools, operates controls to start machines and to regulate the speed and pressure of cutting and drilling;
  • Erects timber or metal supports to shore up tunnel and assists tunnel miner with the excavation of vertical shafts and underground tunnels;
  • Conveys goods and materials to and from the workface, loads and unloads mine cars and transfers materials from underground and surface conveyors to bunkers, tubs and rail trucks;
  • Operates agitators/vibrators to separate minerals and ensures that screened, filtered, crushed and separated material is discharged to appropriate chutes or conveyors;
  • Performs other mining and quarrying tasks not elsewhere classified including digging clay from open pits, operating high-pressure hoses to wash china clay from open pit faces and otherwise assisting miners.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Coal, oil & gas; Mining & related 2878
Specialised construction 1812
Construction 1505
Employment status

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